Me Attempting to Explain the SAT to Kid Gleemonex, Who Is Six, In Which My Experience Was Over 20 Years and Several Major Test Iterations Ago (A Conversation Occasioned by Reading About Laura Ingalls Sitting for the County Teachers' Examinations in These Happy Golden Years)
So they only give the test once a month, and you had to pay for it and sign up for it way in advance, and you could choose your testing location but it was always at like a high-school cafeteria or a junior college lecture hall --
Can you sit wherever you want? Are there other kids there, or just you? Are there teachers there?
Me: [Answers all Qs, with digression on what a proctor is]
. Anyway, it's this big important test, and how you score on it determines the kinds of colleges you can get into --
How come? Why would they make you take a test like that? What is it FOR?
Me: [deciding against going as far back as the anti-Semite stuff, opting to start with the modern-day justification]
Well, the IDEA of it is that since all high schools are different -- different teachers, different books, different grading systems -- this test is supposed to be an objective measure of what students know. Well, at least in math and verbal --
Verbal is words?
Yes! Exactly! So -- I dunno how they do it now, but at least in my day, there were six sections, three math, three verbal, and they could be in any order -- each test booklet is different, so you can't just look at the girl's test next to you and copy her --
Egor tries to copy me all the time.
I know, poor old Egor, he's not quite where you are on his reading comprehension, is he? Anyway. So it's just you and your sharpened #2 pencils and what's in your head -- you can't bring any books or notes or computers in the room --
[Katya] gave me a Frozen
I know! It's neat isn't it? Anyway -- so it's just you in there, working your problems, and there's a time limit on each section, and when they call time, you just have to put your pencil down and stop, whether you're done or not --
KG: [several-minute digression on how she'd get through all the questions the fastest because she's a really good reader and really good at math]
But Mommy, why is this for college?
It's -- ahh -- colleges use it as part of the picture to figure out if you should go there or not. If you get a really good score [gross oversimplification alert!]
, you can get into better schools.
Did YOU get a really good score?
I did, yeah -- not the very very best, but a good one. I got a near-perfect score on the verbal, and a decent -- but what was for me
a really good score -- on the math. [Quick! Don't be all "Tee hee, math is hard! Let's go shopping!" Come on, goddammit, impart some fucking VALUES!]
. I mean -- the verbal was easy for me, it came naturally to me, you know? But the math I had to really work on, and so I did. I got special tutoring -- that's private teaching -- from my friend's mom, who was really really good at math [yes! a lady math person!]
, and did lots and lots of practice tests [O SHATNER HOW I HATED TUESDAY AND THURSDAY MORNINGS OF THE SUMMER OF 1991]
, and did my best on the test, and I was pretty happy with the result.
So you went to a good college?
That's not the only reason why, but yeah --
Where is the college that's the Tigers? Where Aunt A. and Uncle P. went?
Princeton? That's in New Jersey. It's on the East Coast, about as far from here as you can get in America.
KG, in consternation:
I don't like
that. [pause for consideration]
What's the one with the tree?
Yes! Standiford. That's right down the road. Is it a good college?
Yeah, one of the best in the country!
Then I will go there.
Me, heart just about squozen out of my chest:
Good choice, baby. Good choice. I think it's the best one.
Labels: and if'n I drop I reckon I'll be in motion, The Californians, where is my mind? waaay out there on the water -- see it swimming