kitchen table math, the sequel: Reading and the SAT

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reading and the SAT

I'm a glutton when it comes to books. I finish most within a day or two. I read in gigantic eye gulps.

I like "E," "P," and "A" (audio) editions -- but if I have my druthers, I choose "P" (print -- especially if there's nice paper involved).

I'm a cocktail party reader -- not the proofreading type -- and I am great at skimming, notating, highlighting, connecting, marinating, and synthesizing. I am decidedly not perspicacious.

These skills have served me real life...

On the SAT, they are a liability.

I've decided that the SAT is, for all intents and purposes, a reading test.

My mistakes often come down to one word missed, transposed, or possibly just eye-gulped down the wrong hatch without even realizing that I missed something. The questions are often dressed up in someone else's outfit (especially the math) -- so you must summon every iota of punctiliousness* you have at your disposal.

As Catherine and I were saying the other night, the future copy editors of the world will probably have an easier time with this test, than the mathematicians.

*I've stumbled across this word twice in two days on the SAT.

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Cross-posted on Perfect Score Project


SteveH said...

"I've decided that the SAT is, for all intents and purposes, a reading test."

I call it a technical reading test, and my son has never been taught how to do this. It's not an issue of not teaching to the test. Schools don't do any other sort of teaching that might translate into this skill. They might sit in a circle and talk about part of a book, but it's never at the detailed level required by the test questions. Students might be better prepared to answer questions about tone or inferences, but not about details. I'm trying to get him to slow down, look for key words, and really concentrate.

Anonymous said...

About half the SAT is a reading test, but mathematicians are likely to do better at it than lit majors, since a lot of mathematics is about precise definitions and attention to details.

It's good to hear that you think there are "future copy editors" since the books, magazines, and newspapers I read seem to have given up on trying to find any, based on the huge number of copy errors routinely appearing in publications.

Debbie Stier said...

@SteveH My son said to me yesterday: "I wish we learned this stuff in school."

me too!

Debbie Stier said...

@gasstationwithoutpumps You need to add layer of tone to that line (i.e. facetious).

Catherine Johnson said...

the future copy editors of the world will probably have an easier time with this test

the future copy editors &, on math, **especially** the future proofreaders

SATVerbalTutor. said...

Hmm... This is the opposite of what I've observed. Most of the really super-gifted mathematicians I've know did far better on the verbal portion of the test (mid-700's to 800 without studying) than the really verbally gifted people did in math (low 500s-low 700s with studying).

Allison said...

Sorry, Debbie, but I'm with GSW/OP: there are precious few editors of any skill or knowledge left at any print media these days.

The mathematicians I know had a much easier time with the verbal portion of the SAT as well. I don't know why, but I assume it's because they were able to dissect the sentences, stack complex clauses in their mind, and read for details in a way that most strong liberal arts folks I knew were not.

Anonymous said...

I'm more mathematically gifted, my wife is more into the humanities (she was a classics major). Both of us scored well into the 700s on both parts of the SAT, so our experience does not favor either theory (that mathematicians do better on the verbal than humanities people do on the math or vice versa).