The ABCs of the SAT

(Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times)

OK, a quick quiz for readers: Was the Op-Ed article entitled “Just My Luck” in The Times on March 23

(a) Good writing

(b) A compelling argument

(c) An indictment of test-taking


(d) All of the above?

Delightedly — or maybe dutifully — a number of Times letter writers answered (a) (b) (c) and (d) in response to Haskell Flender’s piece on the SAT.

The high school junior described taking his test days after the College Board announced upcoming revisions to the “flawed” exam that, among other things, “tests antiquated vocabulary” and is a “poor predictor” of college success. Here are a few of the responses from readers.

-- Sara Lessley, letters department


Eileen Flaxman of Sherman Oaks countered in kind:

Kids have been whining about the SAT for generations.

But let’s not forget the inherent practical value of this rite of passage: a) set a goal, b) prioritize our schedule, c) manage our anxiety, d) put everything we’ve got into it on test day, and finally, e) let go of remorse, regret and be proud that we did all we could.

Now that’s a learning experience.

Stephen Mattson of Los Osos offered his own lesson:

How pleasantly ironic to read a piece in which the author employs the very skills he decries to fashion an organized and nicely written (if rather predictable and shallow) argument against sophistication and complexity.

Man, U R for sure 1 lucky dude, dude!

Joan Le Vantine of Palm Desert, among others, backed the critique on test-taking:


Congratulations to this high school student for his intelligent, right-on views of the current SAT test.

He is absolutely correct in questioning the use of this admittedly flawed test as a guide for college admission personnel.

Where is the logic in this requirement?

Exactly, added Giuseppe Mirelli of Los Angeles:

The vocabulary words are “antiquated” only because they’re not being used …. As we simplify everything, we also simplify our minds; consequently, the culture we once had fades away to what we have now -- the culture of today; a “culture” antithetical to the word’s meaning.

And Linda Winters of Culver City was not alone in offering praise:

This should have been the essay he wrote for his SAT; then he would be “in like Flynn.”

What a clever, entertaining and meaningful piece of writing.



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