A. Rosenbluth


      Scholastic Aptitude Test or Severely Abusing Teenagers


            The audience experiences momentary blindness as the girls file out in their sequined gowns. Blue knee length. Beige off the shoulder. And for lack of style sense, a puke-yellow ankle cut, shoulder padded dress. False smiles are plastered on, hiding the butterflies that are infesting the lung cavity of the girl front and center, by means of overpopulation. As each girl reaches her stage marked position, she lines her right foot 75.862 degrees in front of her left. The shiny (or Vaseline covered, one never knows) toothed girl mistakenly trips over her rapunzel length hair; the perfectly ironed judges takes note. And with the silencing of the upbeat traditional melody, judgment day has begun, and the future will hence be set in stone. Who shalleth goeth to thy best colleges, and whoeth shall noteth. The SATs, for that matter, administered nation-wide, is no better than a beauty pageant. Good instinctive test taking skills, or wealth can propel one into a top notch school. Likewise, a beauty competition is based not on the hard work leading up to ones judgment, but rather on innate outer characteristics, or money enabling improvements. It is no less outrageous to judge college acceptance on looks and wealth, than to base acceptance on the SAT.

            With every one minute interval, a different girl steps forward, centering the audience’s, as well as the judge’s attention on her. Her upper and lower teeth meet, preventing her unwanted words. It’s a beauty competition for gods sake. With the coming forth of the first contestant, all eyes stab at her body, her face, her hair, criticizing or praising each aspect. The wave of her hair is uneven, it is decided, and her eyes are exactly 2.45 degrees off center. Her lips don’t meet the required length from her nose, and her right kneecap screams with a birthmark. She isn’t good enough for Harvard University, but maybe, because of her nicely plucked eyebrows, she can pull off Hamilton College.

            Contestant number one averaged a cumulative GPA of 4.2. Her extracurriculars go above and beyond what is required. Community service hours outnumber her freckles, and the time spent on sports, yearbook, and the newspaper could all together allow for a six month vacation in Bermuda. Her lack of natural beauty though, proves to be fatal. Lets get a little crazy here and view her beauty in terms of SAT scores. Translated into the wonderful world of college applications, one would realize that her SAT scores are considerably lower than she expected. Grand Canyon lower. She was prepared, yet her innate test taking skills resembled that lovely smell of a eleven month old cheese. A girl lacking natural outer beauty shouldn’t be condemned to community college. Why then should students be penalized for innately bad test taking skills, something that is decided at birth as well? A student who may prove to be smart on their SATs, allowing for acceptance to an esteemed university, quite possibly could lack the perseverance and determination of a lower-scoring applicant.

            Contestant number two confidently strides forward, her smirk undeniably sly. Her sun streaked brown hair frames her high cheekbones and chub-less face, as does a brick fireplace to picture perfect flames. Her legs are perfectly perpendicular to the tiled stage, and the high beam theater lights detail her green eyes to the spectators. ”Superb,” whisper the judges. Princeton it is, they decide. Her notorious fakeness does not hinder their decision. The colored contacts make no wound on the verdict, nor does her nose job, liposuction, or chemically straightened and highlighted hair. Her riveting, yet expensive improvements only help her strive to make it to a highly prestigious university.

            Like a beauty competition, one can be coached and taught how to score well on the SAT. This though, just as lavish cosmetic surgery does, costs money. $350 for a Princeton Review Course, or twelve $125 sessions with an expert tutor, to be exact. Both of which proving to increase test-scores by 100-300 points. And what is taught in these costly courses? Secrets to mastering the test. It is not a matter of acquiring more brain power. That, my friends, was decided at birth. Hints as to how to go about specific problems in order to save time, or what answers will never be correct on a SAT exam, are explained however. These money powered improvements can mean going from a mediocre school to an Ivy. But whats worse is that the SAT itself has a cost. Those who are wealthy enough to take it multiple times in order to score their best have a great advantage to those who cannot afford the $28.50 more than once.

            Centering herself amid the stage, a girl of minority steps forward, seemingly nervous. Her hair is loaded with hay-like split ends. “YUCK,” thinks judge number four. I guess she could be pretty, yet she has erupting pimples seizing her face, for no money equals no expensive zit remedies. Her choppy nails are not painted, and her makeup looks cheap. And with that, 5 seconds later, the judges send her off to a community college. Maybe Nassau, one of the best in country, for sympathy.

            Likewise, people of minority are proven to overall score around 100 points less than a middle class American, for various reasons. Generally in poorer neighborhoods, schooling is unwholesome. Resources are less than adequate, and jobs, rather than SAT studying, take over their time. Just because everyone is taking the same test, seemingly making the SAT an equalizer, does not hide the well-known fact that certain races or cultures are most likely to score lower than the high population of middle class Americans. How then, may I ask, is the SAT an equalizer test, as is its supposed main purpose?

            Although most schools box up the idea that their basis for acceptance may hold little significance as to what students truly belong in their classrooms, many Universities have begun to recognize the unreliability of the SAT. Hard work should hold president, and bad test taking skills, or lack of high income should not hold a teen back from a prestigious college. By basing admission more on grade point average, extracurriculars, and overall achievement, students would not cheated from a deserved admission.

            As the judges hold a final meeting behind the stage curtains, they discuss each contestant. Number two, they decide, should be the winner. And why shouldn’t she? Who cares that her carved face was the result of millions of dollars of plastic surgery. The envelope is handed off, and the audience grows silent with anticipation. With the sliding of a single finger, the announcer opens the letter, and gasps with practiced surprise. “And the winner of the Beauty Competition is …. CONTESTANT TWO!.” The spectators clap wildly as the contestants hug the object of their envy. Number two flashes her surgically implanted smile, as a tear of joy streams down her face. All of that money didn’t go to waste, she thinks. And once again, wealth propels yet another person into success. Hard work is put aside this year, as with every year. The losers gather their belongings, as they ponder this: When will the judges realize that money and innate skills are not the prerequisite to success, but rather perseverance, effort, and determination.