Test Readers – Friend or Foe?

  • March 1, 2016

Test Readers – Friend or Foe?

Any Mythology buffs out there familiar with the three Fates? They sit around weaving our threads of life and trimming them on a whim, thus deciding the course of life for the mortals in the land above. Any Disney buff would recognize these ladies from Hercules.

In the test prep world, there is a group of omnipresent metaphorical furies lurking behind the scenes of the SAT, ISEE, LSAT, GMAT, SSAT and AP Exam. We refer to them in hushed tones. An unknown, faceless group who holds large scissors over our tests, squinting at the sloppy penmanship and deciphering the spelling and, finally, assigning a grade. Who are they? They are our intended audience. Unlike our grandma, mom or teacher, we will never see their faces or a smiley (you-sure-tried) face on the returned assignment. We will instead receive a score from theses faceless Fates and hope that they understood our intent as they spent 3 minutes plowing through our feeble introductions.

When we prep for any test, we are admonished to write neatly, pay attention to spelling, scratch out corrections in one neat line and, for heaven’s sake, ALWAYS use blue or black ink. As the art of handwriting deteriorates, this Essay portion of any standardized tests weighs heavier on the minds of future test takers.

But who are these readers? Do they sit in a large, florescent lit room drinking cold coffee and sardonically laughing aloud, underlining the worst bits of our handwritten foibles to share by the water cooler?

Our worst fears as SAT, ISEE, SSAT and AP Exam takers may not, in fact, be realized. First, the SSAT and ISEE readers are none other than your admissions interviewer at your first choice school. They will read your essay alongside the rest of your school application in its entirety and will have a good sense of who you are as a student.

SAT and AP Exam readers don’t read your essay in a cold, artificially lighted room either. They usually work from their own homes and read your essay with a (hopefully piping hot) cup of coffee.

So, yes, they do control our fates, but we have control on our own end to make our essays readable and coherent.


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