Dear Counselors –

I appreciate hearing from you who felt there’s wisdom in my advice to test if you are capable of showing an impressive score, even if it adds an inconvenience.  Let me address those who feel the inconvenience overrides standards, who might  otherwise discourage your students from taking the ACT or SAT if reasonably feasible.

The SAT largely replaced “Primping, Poise, and Pedigree” that characterized elite college admissions up until the 1970s.  It and the ACT became decent standards of merit, in the absence of standards.  The elevated importance of the SAT / ACT more than anything else let college admissions committees discern students whose diligence and skills stood out on a nationwide basis.  That alone is good.  A well-crafted test that let students show their reading, writing, and math reasoning abilities, and their ability to work with new material thrown at them was itself a good standard to meet, even irrespective of college admissions and scholarships.

I do NOT like the modern SAT.  The College Board’s leaders prostituted themselves to align with bigger-and bigger state education bureaucracies interested in MEASURING more than TEACHING.  They diminished the skills that let Black students stand out by removing analogies, and more recently sentence completions.  They made the math more abstruse, rewarding students who would study SAT math quirkiness instead of master core math knowledge and build creative math reasoning skills.

The ACT is a better test.  But I defend both because their flaws pale in comparison to having NO standard.  Without a standard, there’s no need to take challenging courses, or even attend a challenging school to begin with.  Without a standard, there’s a BIGGER GAP for the “Rick Singers” to exploit with adulterated resumes and fake references.

It’s unfortunate that I am a bigger fan of the SAT than members of the College Board themselves.  They have not opened up private test sites, or re-used school sites on Sundays and non-school weekdays.  It is I, and a consortium of private building owners, who are offering “Sure Site” to allow students to take ACTs, SAT Subject Tests, and even LSATs later this fall and throughout the winter.

It’s very unfortunate that we lack verifiable online high school testing.  Had the ACT followed through on single-section testing, a VERY good thing, they would have put The College Board out of the SAT business.

You and my tutors / class teachers at Ivy Bound “share” many students.  I’m open to your feedback.  I do  Friday night and Sunday night conferences on Zoom.us, always at 8pm eastern, and would add a Wednesday night as well. Please let me know if you’d like to convene.  That can be AFTER your kids’ early applications are all in, say Nov 4th.

Have a tranquil (if possible) rest of October.

Mark G