Writing Topics Draw Fire from Saturday’s SAT

  • March 22, 2016

Writing Topics Draw Fire from Saturday’s SAT

The latest March SAT is drawing criticism for its essay topic picks.  A college confidential student laments, “My jaw dropped and hand started shaking when I read it.”  The complaint is that the essay prompt — “Choose a position on whether reality television is beneficial or detrimental to society.”– caters too heavily to students who watch excessive amounts of TV.  In the past, essay prompts address historical figures or political topics, so to ask students to write about Survivor or The Bachelor seems to reduce the legitimacy of an academically stringent test.  The challenge would be for those students who do NOT watch Jersey Shore to still incorporate the themes of reality tv without knowing a dang thing about the show.  One student who labored through Saturday’s SAT said of the prompt, “Nothing would go through my head since I don’t watch reality shows… I only vaguely know Jersey Shore and it’s controversy with Italian-Americans so I chose that.”

The question remains:  Does a prompt that caters to pop culture exclude students who do not enjoy the salacious voyeurism that these shows allow?  Or is this a chance, finally, for students who would rather conduct a sociologically study of modern behavior on the East Coast to outshine those vexing nerds who re-read the biography of Eleanor Roosevelt the third time “just for fun.”  The gauntlet has been thrown, and we believe one can argue for or against reality TV without any familiarity with the dizzying camera angles, the staged confrontations, the heartwarming violin solos dubbed over the apology scenes. The reason is this: with or without a camera documenting the fights and reconciliation, we, as humans, are drawn to this voyeurism.  One never needs turn on the telly for this staged confrontation.  Most likely, it’s happening with the gardener and the nanny in the yard next door.  So hop in your car, cue the reconciliation scene from the cheesiest romantic comedy you know and drive down Wilshire or Ventura Blvd. Enjoy reality TV right in your neighborhood.

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