December 13th, 2011
11:46 AM ET

My View: When a deadline isn't a deadline

Courtesy Julia Kiesermanby  Julia Kieserman, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Julia Kieserman is a high school senior in New York City and a recent graduate of The Op-Ed Project.

High school seniors around the country anxiously await December 15, when decisions come back on early applications to college. Seniors, counselors, parents, have spent months writing application essays, visiting colleges or college websites, and trying to find the perfect balance between where the senior wants to go and is likely to get in. With admission rates hovering near 10% for some universities, and from 10,000 to 40,000 students applying to some of them, according to The New York Times, colleges get their pick of qualified students.

As many seniors wait, they ask a crucial question: Were my SAT scores good enough?

Before taking the SAT last January, I had recurring nightmares about blank answer keys. My hands shook so badly I almost missed the bubbles I had to fill in. My problem was easily identifiable: test anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 25.1% of teens between 13 and 18 years old experience a lifetime prevalence of some variety of anxiety disorder.  What I was experiencing wasn’t new. But if so many testing-age individuals struggle with anxiety, there must be some way of dealing with it - right?

Students diagnosed with physical or mental disabilities can qualify for extended time on the SAT if they provide documentation. They can qualify for either 50% or 100% extra time, which turns a test of 3 hours and 45 minutes into either a 5-hour and 25-minute test or a 7-hour test, administered over two days.

Although extended time qualification can include physical impairments (blindness, missing arms or hands), it can also be granted for mental health disorders like dyslexia, ADHD, or even test anxiety.

Students with learning disabilities account for over 90% of students who get extended time, according to “Fair Game?,” a book on standardized tests by Rebecca Zwick.

The nonspecific qualification of a learning disability means that some students receiving equal accommodations need it significantly less than others. Samuel J. Abrams, a research fellow in the Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences at Harvard University found that, although the national percentage of students that qualify for extra time on the SAT is 2%, in some elite schools, as many as 46% of the students taking the SAT receive accommodations like extra time.

The pressure on students to do well on the SAT, due to its important role in college applications, is so extreme that an increasing number of students will look for ways to get extra time even though they may not need it.

For students that truly need extra time on standardized tests, it’s a way of giving them a chance to fulfill their true potential. Extra time can be a necessary and fair testing tool. However, for a small cohort of students, the extensive reliance on extra time may lead to unrealistic expectations outside of a school setting. Let’s take this to the real world context. Imagine looking your boss in the eye and saying, “I used to get extra time in school, so do you think you could extend my deadline by another week?” You would probably get kicked to the curb. Never having to live without special accommodations is much like using a crutch: You don’t know how to live without one.

Further, extra-time applicants are given an unfair advantage on the college application process. Nowhere on their applications (SAT scores or transcripts) are applicants required to state they used extra time or disclose the disability that was used as a justification for extra time. Students who need extra time should be given an equal opportunity to attend top universities, but extra time is something they will most likely also request in college, affecting their ability to perform in a classroom, and something the college has the right to know about.

Despite prevalent test anxiety, I never asked for extra time. Over the past few years I’ve developed strategies on how to deal with anxiety to improve my scores. Although I would benefit from extra time, I can’t say I need it. With extra time, I imagine my pressured test environment would become more like a consuming homework assignment. And while getting rid of that pressure is tempting, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the test?

Getting into college shouldn’t be about learning to manipulate the system, but working hard to fit within it. Good grades and SAT scores should be broken down into a simple formula, one first identified by Thomas Edison to define genius: “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Or, as the family comedy “Dodgeball” eloquently puts it, “You’ve got to burn it to earn it.” For students who legitimately need extra time, it serves to level the playing field. But for those who don’t really need it, it breeds the wrong kind of values in college hopefuls.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Julia Kieserman.

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Filed under: College • High school • Practice • Voices
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. John Hayes

    Fraudulently getting a diagnosis of dyslexia to get more time on the SAT is immoral and yet fairly common among the upper economic class .

    December 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  2. TIm

    I was part of the Harvard Study on dyslexia. I have never heard of dyslexia as being called a mental illness. In this day and age dyslexia doesnt really exist, it has been broken down into varying aspects. I was never aforded extra time for test, although it would have been very helpful.

    In a recent study, over 70% of highly successful self employeed individuals (earning over 350K) said they suffered from dyslexia.

    I know the inventor of the modern UAV, and a very major contributor to the Stealth technology in the B1 B2 F117, and JTIDS also suffers from dyslexia. He has an IQ under the old test of over 214. Funny thing is Boston College probably wouldnt take him today.

    So if we were to extrapolate, if he was exposed to the same guidlines, if they had not gived this guy an extra 2 hours to take a test how many more would have died in combat without the Preditor. Would you have gotten to witness the take down of Bin Laden or the termination of 28 of the 35 terrorist at the top of the list.

    Einstein had dyslexia as did Bob Oppenheimer. I was once told Kelly Johnson also had dyslexia.

    Yes I struggled. Yes the State of Massachusetts wasted to declare me mentally incompetant. Yes I graduated from a major university, working through school and have become one of hte 1%. I employ 5 families. I have never taken a dime from the government.

    So at the end of the day, was that 2 hours worth it to society?

    Just one persons thoughts.

    December 14, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  3. Kerry

    Awesome article! As a recent college grad, now working in a stressful field, I can say that knowing how to meet deadlines is one of the top priorities for many employers. I attended a university with a large engineering program, and Adderall abuse is absolutely rampant. I shudder when I think about someone designing a building, a plane, or a bridge, when all throughout college they were relying on a drug that they no longer take.

    December 14, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  4. Yo

    Enough already with the sop for all the wannabees in the world. You don't hire 4 people to help some blind guy fulfill his dream to be a bus driver. Would you want your doctor to be one of the "special" people who got extra time to figure stuff out? As Yoda said, "Do or don't do, there is no try."

    December 14, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  5. David

    Julia, if you really want to see an example of unfairness look no further than affirmative action. No manipulation of the system is needed because the same unfairness your article addresses is in fact mandated by law. You may be surprised to learn that simply being a minority can increase your acceptance chances by up to 20% at some universities.

    Now I understand (as best I can) the discrimination such people are faced with, especially when seeking employment. For example, in the legal world it is typical for 100+ associate firms to hire a single token member of each race. Its hard to imagine how tough landing one of these jobs must be. However, that is beyond the scope of this post. The point is, as mentioned in Julia's article, these same people are not as prepared to enter the real world and work amongst their peers at the same level. When people are granted breaks in life simply because of their religion, color, or b/c they have anxiety, they learn to take advantage of that characteristic throughout the rest of their lives.

    Universities should not enroll less qualified students simply b/c they have anxiety and those same universities should not enroll less qualified students just b/c they are black or latino.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • TAG

      It is a shame you had to make this about race. As an African-American female, I took the SAT with no problem and never thought about applying for an accomodation. However, I have been in the work world for a number of years and can honestly say that affirmative action is still needed because of the racism that still exist. It may not be as overt as it used to be, but it is still there.

      December 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  6. woodrow

    What has always disturbed me about this test is that it doesn't measure how well you will do in college or your intelligence. It's a measure of how well you did in primary school. And that can best be represented by the grades you received. So to me, this test is meaningless and amounts to discrimination because it attempts to pigeonhole you based on a single performance.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Johnny

      Grades are not the best representation because you can go to any two different high schools in the country and receive vastly different grades based on the level of expectations at the school or in the area. This is why we need a Standardized test, so you can properly guage the level of learning that one has accomplished, whether they live in Anchorage, Des Moines, Dallas, or Queens.

      December 14, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  7. Kim

    Extra time has always annoyed me. I never got it, but I certianly would've done better in school and better on the SAT's if I had it. My thing was, and still is, math. I hate math, I don't understand it. We got along great until about 5th grade and since then it was an uphill battle. Not surprisingly, that was the section I did the worst on in the SAT (all 3 times I took it that was the only score that stayed pretty much the same). I panicked during math tests in school because I got things mixed up and confused and during the SAT I would look at the math questions and go, "What?!" I would've loved an extra half hour on every math test I ever took. I could've relaxed a little and taken the time to really think things through instead of doing the first thing that came to mind and hoping I was right.

    Now that I think about it I could've used extra time on every test I ever took. My essay's and short answers could've been better, I would've taken more time on my work for science and math (going back and double checking never did much for me because I only ever had about a minute to do it if I had time to do it at all). I wasn't the world's best student in high school, sometimes it was for lack of trying, sometimes it was from lack of understanding, and I really didn't get my act together untilI got to college (again, would've loved to have extra time there too).

    Now I'm studying for the LSAT, another test where I would love to have extra time. Everyone could probably get every question on the LSAT right if they had 8 hours to take it. I don't know if they give extra time on the LSAT, they shouldn't because I doubt anyone in law school is going to be sympathetic to the fact that you need extra time to finish a final. Everyone has things in life they have to overcome, some more challenging than others, and I think there are some people who definitely do need extra time but most people don't need it. I don't think I know anyone who really needed extra time, esepcially because most of the people I knew that extra time either did bad anyway or said they got their doctors to diagnose them with ADD just so they had more time to fully think out their answers and they weren't even really on any medication.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  8. highSATbutnowallIdoisreadCNNcomments

    One basic point that seems to be missing here is that lack of intelligence is a serious disability in today's society (and probably in all previous societies as well). Should stupid people be accommodated as well? I'm not implying that anyone with more traditionally defined disabilities is stupid, don't get me wrong. But how can you argue against the fact that if your brain just doesn't work very well at figuring things out, you are at a grave disadvantage in your life? If you cede that point, then the hard part is trying to draw a line between people who are disabled (and should be accommodated) vs people who are just dull (and should be steered towards more appropriate careers) – I don't think its possible. What's the minimum score on the SAT these days – 600? Is there anyone who makes in the 600's (and who actually tried hard, though inherent biochemical laziness is its own disability) who was not equally deserving of further time and other accommodations as anyone with a diagnosed learning disability? The SAT is basically a test of several (but certainly not all) aspects of intelligence, and what society seems to be leaning towards is the notion that no score of below average is acceptable – that all people are at least average and if they don't test at that level then they should be accommodated until they do. That sort of compassionate thinking is not going to work out very well for the world in the long term.

    December 14, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • FoolKiller

      Exactly!

      December 14, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  9. Erin

    To JohnLubvic:

    Thank you for saying this. I worked all through school and took a full time courseload all through college. In my junior year I stopped working retail and stuck to internships. My friends thought I was completely insane and thought I had turned "boring." Guess who got the professional level job straight after college? The stress and lack of sleep paid off in the end.

    Some of my friends were VERY smart but didn't work because their parents wanted them to focus on school. One in particular can't find a job because she got a liberal arts degree and has 0 work experience. She was a genius with science and had started in biology, but decided it clashed with her lifestyle and switched. She works retail now, 3 years out of college. It's sad really.

    December 14, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • propmgr34

      My husband also works retail, and makes plenty of maney, meets interesting people and is very happy. What is your point? What is wrong with retail?

      December 14, 2011 at 9:34 am |
      • Kim

        Most people who've worked in retail, like myself, hated it. I worked in retail all through college and dealt with rude customers who talked to me like I was a complete idiot and blamed me for things that weren't my fault (like that the clothes were inappropriate for 14 year old girls and we were targeting the wrong audience). Very few people actually enjoy working in retail. If I had had to go back to working in the mall after college I would've considered that the ultimate failure and I don't know anyone who was actually sad to leave their job in retail for a "real world" job, even if it had nothing to do with their major.

        December 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |
      • The Counselor

        Who goes to school to work in retail, unless her plan is to be a District Manager or higher? I'm sure that's not what her intentions were with a Liberl Arts degree and being quite intelligent in Science. Her point was that you work hard when you're in college. It's not just about going to classes and having fun. If you want to get your money's worth and extend your degree; you do more. Because minimum wage is not going to cut it, there is no health insurance and you'll end up living with mommy and daddy or some roommates when some prefer to live on their own, paying an exobiant amount of cash for student loans, other bills/debt and not much to show for it.

        She's not knocking retail. Even I can see that. I'm a professional, but I've worked retail before and actually quite recently; but like her; I worked hard through my degrees so I could avoid retail if at all possible. Your husband is married to you, so perhaps you're working, which means there is additional income in the house and more tax breaks.

        December 14, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  10. Phil

    I think the author makes a valid point, but I'm not sure she takes it far enough.

    Many, many people cheat all the time. It's not limited to the SAT. People of all ages cheat on their taxes, their spouses, their timesheets, their resumes, and their SAT's. At least the kids that asked for more time actually took THEIR OWN SAT's, unlike the kids that simply hired someone else to take it for them.

    When you get to college, you'll find cheating on tests is rampent. The worst offenders I saw were in the Greek system where extensive "cribs" of past tests from each professor were available to members to review. Many of my Greek friends would sail through tests and later tell me that it was a "dead nuts crib" of a previous test...as the Professor cheated and didn't bother to make a new test.

    So...given the fact people will cheat given the chance, the issue here is the fact the SAT testing service is cheating the public by not doing enough to figure out if people are asking for more time who don't deserve it. I can easily see where extra time might easily make 100 to 200 point difference on the test, especially the essay question.

    For those of us that don't cheat, I think the only thing to do is stand up for ourselves. I look back now and wonder why I didn't march into one of my lazy professor's officies, stick a finger in his chest and tell him that he was setting his curve based on a bunch of high scores that the top that only existed because he was too lazy to write a new test!

    Oh yeah...I got just as good of grade as those high scorers and I didn't have to cheat. I think all of those poor sops had to take meaningless jobs on Wall Street after graduation. sigh.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Phil

      Oh and by the way...My son got interviewed for MIT yesterday.

      That has nothing to do with anything. I'm just so proud of that young man I could burst. 4.0/2100. Good kid too.

      December 14, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Jon

      Your comment about the Greek system is entirely irrelevant. I am currently a member of a Greek organization at the College of William & Mary, where the honor system that exists in many colleges and universities was founded along with our College in 1693. Study banks are perfectly legal, even under one of the most strict honor codes in the country. Exams week was this week, and I witnessed someone cheating on an exam (he was expelled by our honor council a few days later).

      Sounds like you never landed that "boring job on Wall Street" and are living vicariously through your son. Just make sure he knows that you're not cheating when you use past tests, you're being resourceful. Hopefully he can turn that MIT education into something more than another Greek-life conspiracy theory.

      December 14, 2011 at 10:29 am |
      • Phil

        Jon,

        If you've seen the test before the test is given and don't feel that is cheating, then it isn't up to me to "fix you", fortunately. If you look at a life as a person who creates nothing but money, there are many spots for you in our society. If you look at a proud parent as someone who is simply living vicariously through their children...then you will be shocked when you have your own children.

        The advice I give to my sons is "Don't worry about making money. Figure out how to make a difference".

        I leave you with the same advice. Good luck and Godspeed.

        December 14, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  11. Erin

    I know this girl is only a senior in high school but she should know that there's a major difference between test anxiety and a legit learning disability like dyslexia. My eyes popped out of my head when she mentioned there's no where to put your disability on college applications. Of course there isn't, it's not the college's business. Getting into a college isn't all SAT scores either. Kind of how GPA doesn't really matter after college. Obviously she doesn't understand that now, but she will someday. I know a lot more now than I did at 18!

    To the poster who said jobs don't have actual deadlines, it depends on the industry. In my job I have deadlines, but many are monthly, not weekly, and most are flexible to a point. At my old job I sometimes had strict DAILY deadlines... that was hectic.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Hilary

      Thank you for pointing this out, Erin, I was also shocked by the author's insistence that test anxiety is equivalent to a learning disability. I'm all for accommodating those with legitimate disabilities, like deafness, blindness, dyslexia, etc. But those who get nervous when taking a standardized test? Who among us hasn't experienced this? Those who can push through it and complete the test anyway deserve to get ahead in life.

      I too work a job that has regular, aggressive deadlines. I learned to meet strict deadlines in college – at my university it was very rare for a professor to grant an extension on a paper, and all final exams were timed. It has served me well in my career thus far, and it's simply a part of higher education. Students should be prepared to face the job market, not expect to be accommodated every step of the way.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:26 am |
      • Hilary

        I would like to add, though, that the author deserves praise for her well-researched and well-written article. I honestly forgot until the end (where she discusses her personal experience) that she is only a high school senior. Though I may disagree with her conclusion, she does an excellent job presenting her argument.

        December 14, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  12. Ben Martinez

    extra time? in the real world that I live in and work in Fortune 500 company there is no "extra" time to complete tasks. Deadlines are firm. Anyone on my team who can't complete a task on time isn't on my team very long. Good way of setting up kids to fail.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • The Counselor

      Well not everyone works for a Fortune 500 company Ben. As a Counselor who works with Special Needs students there is something call Vocational Rehabilitation. Look it up. They help people with disabilities transition into different fields, helping them to create realistic goals, allowing them to see how the interviewing process is, working a job, etc. They also work with businesses in the area to assist them in working with people with disabilities. No one is perfect, whether it's extra time, accessible areas, etc... many Americans need an accommodation or two.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  13. JohnLubvic

    Coventional college educations have become highly benign in the real world. As a retired business owner, I would rather entertain propsects who have worked and gone to school online concurrently. That's the kind of initiative this nation needs to survive in the future. Not some idealistic pencil pusher who has spent the last four years of their life partying and eyeball rolling in some stuffy classroom ignoring some megalomaniacal professor reading off the the same notes he's been using for the last ten years.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  14. Katie

    My son qualified for extra time on the SAT because he is a slow processor. It took us many years (and lots of money) to get this diagnosis, which no school has any kind of program for. His IQ is in the 140s, and he writes beautifully, but when it comes to reading comprehension or memorization of lists he needs more time. Too much value is placed on how quickly one gets through the material in a classroom, and far too much value is placed on fast someone can take a test. In the end, schools turn out kids who can speed their way through a textbook but who have little depth of understanding and who forget much of what they crammed for after the test is over. The SATs have way too much societal emphasis placed on their scores in high school . Many colleges are now either disregarding them or not placing a lot of weight on them as they look over a student's application, especially in light of all the extra coaching so many kids pay for to help raise the score. Colleges are beginning to realize the SAT score doesn't measure knowledge, it measures the ability one has to pass that particular test. I won't get into how much money is made on this one test, but I will say any company that demands an extra 50 dollars to provide you with a breakdown of the answers is scamming you.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Jeff

      Why not give everyone as much time as they need.

      December 14, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Hmm

      If your kids is slow, there is no way he can have 140+ IQ. IQ test measures how fast the brain can solve problems. Speed is more important in IQ test than in SAT.

      December 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |
      • McBain

        I think you may be overstating his IQ, as Hmm suggests. Most accepted IQ scores are based on quick responses to puzzles and questions.

        December 14, 2011 at 11:11 am |
      • IQ Info

        IQ does NOT measure how fast your brain can process information. IQ is a measurement of how much knowledge you have. The executive functioning of the brain determines how quickly a person can retrieve the information from the brain and use it appropriately. (EF is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space.)

        You can have the highest IQ in the world but still not be able to take a test fast enough to meet timing requirements. The real problem with SAT and other tests like it is that they have nothing to do with the real world. Students can spout facts and answer questions all day long but if they don't know how to *think* they will still have difficulty in the workforce.

        December 14, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  15. aochs615

    SAT = Stupid Ass Test

    December 14, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  16. Bill

    Show me a high school kid, taking the SAT, who is NOT experiencing some sort of test anxiety......and I'll be amazed!

    Fifteen years ago, I looked at going back to school full time, to get an engineering degree. I wasn't happy with my SAT scores from high school, and wanted to re-take the exam. When I did so, I remember a couple feelings I had:
    1. this is SO much easier than it was when I was in high school!! Of course, being older, more experienced in worldly matters, having read so many more books (better vocabulary score), and having experienced REAL pressure in the real world, I didn't feel anxious about taking the exam.
    2. oh man, these kids are wound up as tight as springs! I took the exam on a Saturday, at one of the local high schools, with a bunch of high school kids. I was the only adult in the classroom, with the exception of the proctor......and these kids were as nervous as I remembered being at their age!

    I never did go back to school, as a great job offer came along before I made that decision......but I did feel better about myself, having taken the SAT exam as an adult. Oh, and I improved my score from 1120 combined (high school) to 1420 combined (adulthood), out of a possible 1600 points. Increased my math score by 100 points, and my verbal by 200. And to tell the truth, it shocked the **** out of me! LOL

    December 14, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • James

      *raises hand*

      I didn't experience anxiety when taking the SAT back in the late 1980s. I just treated it as any other test.

      December 14, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Johnny

      I also took the SAT's as an adult, but I did after I had already received my engineering degree. It was on a bet with some friends that I couldn't score perfect math again (which I had already done in high school) after drinking a 12 pack of beer. I drank the beer, went into the test, and wasn't nervous at all. I took the math section, left the verbal test completely blank, and turned my paper in in just under an hour. I did get my perfect (math) score. Perhaps there is something to be learned here.

      December 14, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  17. meghan

    oh come on you guys! she's 17 or 18 years old! yes – her immaturity and lack of writing experience is obvious – but she's not even left the high school classroom yet! cut her some slack – there are loads of CNN articles written by college grads that are not even close to this quality of writing.

    i hope she did well on her SATs – but it sounds like she certainly holds a grudge for not getting any extra time!

    December 14, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Dana

      It's not the point. The point is that everyone has some "disease" and wants better treatment. Most of the "diseases" are either imaginary or simply related to cheating

      December 14, 2011 at 9:50 am |
      • prof

        Dana,
        Your reply was completely unthoughtful, and I hope you think through things before you post about "diseases." I am a college professor, and I experience students suffering from learning disabilities first hand every semester. If you have never experienced teaching a student who suffers from a learning disability, then I think you have no room to speak on something you know very little about. These "diseases" do in fact exist, and I personally suffer from test anxiety as well. As you can see, despite my "disability," I have translated what I learned in college and grad school to my students now.

        My only concern in this article is that she defines test anxiety as a learning disability; when in fact, it is not. It is merely a fear of failure, something I learned in therapy to address my test anxiety. It does not prevent or stagger my learning in any fashion, but it does affect my performance when taking the assessment. I qualified to use additional time for a comprehensive exam for my Master of Arts degree, and it was the best decision I have ever made because I knew I could perform better on the exam with the additional time allocated. I work for a university and a community college, and I have deadlines to meet on a consistent basis, which I have never missed a deadline. Contrary to common belief, my test anxiety and therapy helped me to learn how to control my anxiety, prioritize work, and meet deadlines because I was able to practice techniques to alleviate my anxiety on my performance.

        I will further say, that in light of your post, Dana, I agree to an extent that people want to conceptualize every known "disease," and American physicians often "over diagnose" or "misdiagnose" students. In fact, many physicians are very quick to say a rambunctious student has ADHD, and in reality, they just eat too much sugar and drink too much soda. In turn, after the diagnosis, the student is placed on heavy mind altering drugs to reduce the symptoms of ADHD, when the student just needs a different diet. We are quick to place a "name" to a particular behavior when we should be trying several trial and error processes to zoom in on the real issue at hand. Instead of giving our students those blue pills, we should try behavior modification for these students, so they can actually use their own "disability," assuming they have one, to work for them, not against them. If we provide the tools to help students overcome, manipulate, or at least tolerate their disability, then we would actually be providing a service, one that is fair and equal. And if that means a bit more time on a test, jeeze, just give it to them.

        December 14, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  18. itsmehere

    I have four kids in college. Each of them has a different IQ. Should the ones with the lower IQ's get additional time to compensate them for their obvious disadvantage when compared to the brighter ones. No. Additionally, they've told me for years of how common it is to seek diagnosis of ADD/ADHD in order to get prescriptions for adderol and preferential treatment on tests. Physical disablities are a whole different matter.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  19. Jay

    You are applying for college. Look at the 4 year graduation rates, most ignore their 4 year which is in the 30% range in favor of a 6 year rate – in the 60% range. It just jacks up your cost to spend 2 more years. So, yes you can get more time, but only in our wonderful education system – not the real world.

    December 14, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  20. Valentijn

    This article reflects the immaturity and inexperience of the author. First of all, the vast majority of jobs in the real world do not have deadlines, much less fixed ones. The author provided no other arguments for why the need for accommodations in school will be harmful in the long run. Further, the author does not seem to comprehend what a disability really is. It is not people demanding a crutch, it is people that have been suffering for a long period of time that would like nothing more than to throw that crutch out the window. Universities do not have a right to decide if they want a person with a disability or not – they have a duty to accommodate those students when they get them.

    December 14, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • tffl

      Not sure what "real world" you inhabit, but the one that I (and most other people) do certainly has deadlines all the time. Projects, reports, evaluations, proposals – all of these are performed to deadlines, and often quite firm ones.

      December 14, 2011 at 4:43 am |
    • bob

      so do you believe then that it is simple coincidence that top ranked schools have a hugely disproportionate number of kids taking the SAT who got this extra time allotment? it's just a coincidence that top schools (with students that presumably have top SAT scores) have a rate of special exemption thats fully 2300% OVER the national norm? get real! it's not a crutch, it's gaming the system!

      December 14, 2011 at 5:49 am |
  21. Laurie

    This article is bogus. I went to the link that was included in the article to support the claim that there is a school where 46% of students receive extra time on the SAT. But the link said no such thing. Instead, it listed one school where 18% get extra time – a far cry from 46%. How many other "facts" in this story are false?

    December 14, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • disillusioned

      The linked article indeed says: "at some elite schools, up to 46 percent of students receive special accommodations to take the tests"

      December 14, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  22. Tejas

    This is a pretty naive analysis. When is anyone ever in need to perform SAT material in a condensed time frame other than the appointed time for taking it? It's just an arbitrary means of making a distribution curve. You think this has something to do with real life skills? Naive. You can't help but to have a narrow and naive point of view just coming out of H.S. Edison isn't exactly the greatest person to quote for character. Keep in mind, Tesla was a ditch digger, and he made modern society possible. He knew more about perspiration, inspiration, and having his ideas stolen by Edison. And honestly, he wouldn't have given a $@&# about how long it took you to take standardized test, just like everyone else outside of any college admissions office. Here's a hint about how the world works little girl, now that you've accused disabled people of taking advantage of the system, feel free to prove it at anytime. Or better yet, come up with a better idea to handle people with diagnosed disability, as opposed to whining about how unfair it is to be normal.

    December 14, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • George

      You must be one of the "disabled" punks who gamed the system. Has there ever been any proof that giving extra time actually helps "disabled" morons fulfill their potential? I'm sure it helps some, but I'm also sure it allows some people to unfairly game the system by crying about their disability.

      December 14, 2011 at 3:06 am |
      • Ed

        I am one of those "disabled" morons. I have muscular atrophy in my hands and cannot write at the same speed as others. Although I can type at a fast speed, the SAT is a written test. If we wish to truly make the SAT a test of knowledge, rather than a test of who can write the fastest, we need to provide accommodations to the disabled.

        December 14, 2011 at 6:38 am |
      • Katie

        My son is one of your "disabled morons", and I'd place money on his IQ being at least 15 points higher than yours. He's a slow processor – needs more time to comprehend what he is reading. How is that "gaming the system"? The test is designed to show false high grades for kids who simply good at memorizing and who know how to cut corners to cut time, but who have little depth of knowledge and even less desire to apply it.

        December 14, 2011 at 8:16 am |
      • bob

        katie, part of most iq tests is a section that gauges how fast one can process problems – so your claim is doubtful

        December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am |
      • Tejas

        Yeah, guess I am one of those disabled morons. I took up electrical engineering with a minor in physics, you know, because I'm stupid. My genetic condition was totally fabricated by my physicians and several specialists so I could get extra time on a test. But to be fair I'm sure you could get a better score on a quantum mechanics exam if you had a little more time....idiot.

        December 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  23. Emily

    I think this is a very well-written article. Despite whatever test anxieties you may face, I expect that your writing skills will bring you great success in college and beyond.

    December 14, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  24. WelcometotheClub

    Wow, your not out of high school and your already looking to fault others for your short comings. Instead of worrying about who gets extra time, why not study and pull off a 1400 or more. I would say 1600, but I don't think you have that in your bag.

    Let me guess when you get out of college, your going to say an illegal immigrant took your job. Or then when you look for a date, your going to say chick with plastic surgery stole your man. Or when you don't get a promotion you will say it is because your a girl.

    Hopefully you will quickly realize it is never going to be an a level playing field. Only reason your complaining is because you think your were short changed. However, I am sure there are plenty of kids who grew up in inner cities think that you had an unfair advantage by going to a high school that is better than theirs.

    I was hoping the next generation of Americans would change the current climate of looking to blame someone else. Apparently not.

    Best of luck on your future endeavors.

    December 14, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Walnuts

      your=/=you are

      December 14, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Amy

      The SATs now consist of three parts: Writing, Critical Reading, and Math. Each section is worth 800 points, with a perfect score being 2400, not 1600 anymore. There are also subject tests in areas such as foreign language, science, history, and so on. Many schools require that students take at least one of these as well.

      December 14, 2011 at 6:53 am |
  25. ERL

    Dyslexia...mental health disorder? In no way is dyslexia a mental health disorder. I think you need to get your facts straight!!!!!! You obviously have no idea what a dyslexia student encounters each and every day. I am a specialist who works with these children every day. Believe me, they're not bluffing!!! You would benefit from doing more research, or reading Sally Shaywitz's book. People like you really irk me when you lump groups of people together and automatically make assumptions about them without even knowing them, or working with them. Wow!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Luigi

      The author is a high school student. I respectfully submit your expectations are too high for someone with her education thus far.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • #yourwrong

      Actually, dyslexia is by it's very definition a mental health disorder. Unless you are processing information with a body part other than your brain, in which case you probably aren't going to have to take the SAT in the first place.

      December 14, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  26. Kyle

    Another idea: eliminate the SAT. It's not a measure of high school work, is written for the lowest common denominator and causes far too much stress for what it is worth. The fact that some schools look at my standardized testing scores before my transcript, teacher recommendations or essays is deplorable. I put in three and a half strong years of work. That's where the "perspiration" lies.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Katie

      I'm with you on this one. The SAT is nothing but a money maker for both CollegeBoard (makers of the test) and all those small businesses who rely on parents willing to spend money on programs designed to help their kids pass the test. It does not reflect anything learned in high school. Kids who are coached excessively and who "study" for this test may have good scores but they once it's over, half the stuff they crammed and memorized is gone. Colleges know this, and more and more of them are placing little or no weight on the scores.

      December 14, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  27. A Professor

    Given the behavior of our financial and political elite in recent years, it is clear that we have devolved to "Nascar ethics". In other words, "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying." The solution to this entire problem is quite simple. I say this as a college professor with a child with dyslexia.

    Rather than try to catch and punish those who abuse the system. Eliminate the need for accommodation at all. Make it a two day test for everyone. This way those to take two days could not go home to look up answers for an extra advantage. Then, let everyone take as long as they wish, up to 8 hours per day. BUT... record how long they took. Then report both the score and the time.

    This eliminates the need for any sort of accommodation. Some schools will want extremely fast kids with OK scores, others will want great scores that took longer. The child can submit evidence of disability as part of the admission process, or not, if they wish.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Luigi

      Imagine how long it might have taken Neils Bohr to finish the SAT.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
      • Katie

        Or Einstein.

        December 14, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • Juuka Morinaga

      If the test would be lengthened as a result, then that defeats the purpose of extra time. The POINT is to make up for shortcomings experienced by having a disability. They may have a purpose for giving most people a time limit.

      If the time limit is like that of the TAKS (unlimited) but the length is the same then maybe, but I don't see the SAT making an unlimited or de facto unlimited test

      December 14, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  28. Maya

    The SAT was embraced because it made the jobs of lazy college admissions officers easier and therefore cut costs. Those scores prove very little, precisely because there is such a variation in the way kids prep. A kid whose parents could afford expensive prep courses isn't necessarily smarter than the poorer kid. He has just had the benefit of having the information drilled into him. Even college essays are a crock. They don't say anything about the intelligence or ambition of the student. The only thing they show is what he has been told he should say.

    You know, I never took the SATs. I didn't even get a high school diploma. I got a GED. I am also now studying a first tier law school. Do you know what that proves? Well, it doesn't actually prove anything. It does imply, however, that the SATs aren't all that necessary and that high school diplomas are, for lack of a better term, a joke.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Luigi

      In there, somewhere, have you taken a class in Management Information Systems? If so, how did you do?

      (I'm reacting to the allegation of lazy. You are in law school. Defend your point.)

      December 13, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Eric

      You're "studying a first tier law school?" Sounds like the SAT would have weeded you out for not understanding how prepositions such as "at" are used in the English language.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  29. John O'Connor

    Do surgeons get extra time when performing an operation? Do soldiers get extra time on the battlefield? Do accountants get extra time to file tax returns before the April 15th deadline? Does my lawyer get extra time to cross-examine a witness? People should learn to deal with their shortcomings because life won't make accommodations. End extra time allowances on the SAT for mental health reasons!

    December 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Luigi

      Do surgeons get extra time when performing an operation?

      Depends.

      Do soldiers get extra time on the battlefield?

      No.

      Do accountants get extra time to file tax returns before the April 15th deadline?

      Yes.

      Does my lawyer get extra time to cross-examine a witness?

      Yes. The test isn't time. The test is if the lawyer is asking questions that are relevant. The witness gets as much time as needed as well.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Grad Student

      I don't know about the rest of it, but personally I want my surgeon to take as much time as he needs. Rushed surgeons make mistakes. There are a great many things in life where the quality of work matters more than the time it took to complete it. I think the SATs shouldn't be timed at all, for anyone. Then they're testing knowledge and understanding of concepts rather than how quickly you can fill in little bubbles.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Shawn

      Does your aunt have balls?
      NO.
      Because if she did, she would be your uncle.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Katie

      What silly questions. There is very little about the real world that doesn't allow for extra time, because sometimes extra time is needed. People get into trouble ALL THE TIME for not taking extra time.

      Maybe you don't think YOU need it. Good for you. Now show some compassion for people who do.

      December 14, 2011 at 8:27 am |
      • Cobra-212

        "There is very little about the real world that doesn't allow for extra time..." ...and this thinking is what is causing the downfall of America. The real world is run by nature and not man. In nature it is survival of the fittest, fastest, strongest, smartest. Those who can't keep up are left behind. Those who don't pull their weight are banished from the group. Those who don't learn how not to be eaten get eaten. Those who need extra time to outrun the predator chasing them get caught. Nature has a way of ensuring what evolves is based on the smartest, strongest, and brightest, and not the weak, slow, or unfit. People, however, seem to think that having our population grow exponentially in the ranks of the unmotivated, uneducated, unskilled, who survive off the hard work of others is the "natural thing to do." Unless we get real and understand that perpetuating our faults will not lead to a stronger human race, but rather ensure that the natural evolution happening around us in the animal kingdom will ensure we are one day surpassed in our role at the head of the food chain.

        December 14, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  30. matt

    I knew people in college who managed to bamboozle doctors into diagnosing them with attention deficit disorder, and used that diagnosis to leverage double length exams throughout their college career; I knew one in particular that did this throughout his undergraduate career, decided to try giving it an honest effort in graduate school, only to go to the disability office halfway through the semester when he started getting B's/C's instead of A's in classes (and the funny thing is, because he got "diagosed" mid-semester, they expunged his bad grades). There are undoubtedly a few people who deserve and need the extra time, but for a lot of people, it's just a means of legalized cheating.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • dude

      They aren't fooling us doctors. we just pretend they are fooling us to stay out of trouble with the DEA. It is getting harder to get full pay patients anymore. Anybody with ambition looking for an angle will pay the full rate, usually in cash, for the appointment and prescription. Adderal can help anybody even if you don't have ADHD. We then use their "improvement" in grades to justify the diagnosis. We are fully wise to the game. We just don't care.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
      • Cobra-212

        What a sad statement of greed before ethics. It's the very same thing we rail about our politicians doing, but why should we expect them to be any different. When I was young a majority of people had ethics that they put before their own personal benefit. Today, sadly, there seem to be very few.

        December 14, 2011 at 9:27 am |
      • Dudette

        Have you thought about what your illegal and unethical behavior does to your pediatric patients who actually do have ADD/ADHD? Is the money really worth it? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you cheated throughout high school and med school, and I feel sorry for your patients.

        December 14, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  31. NateFromIndiana

    Sadly enough it appears that Congress is moving towards a de-leveling of the playing field in which only the rich kids will make it past the Bursar's office.

    December 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  32. Mike

    People who feel the current situation makes the SAT stressful would do well to remember that in the 1960s the U.S. military drafted large numbers of young men once they completed high school. Until near the end of the Viet Nam War (1969), a young man's SAT score and the impact it had on college admission was literally life or death.

    December 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  33. Malibuchick

    There are some legitimate cases where people need time, such as dyslexia (although I know many with dyslexia who never asked for time and did just fine). However, the concept of being too nervous to take the test is stupid. You're nervous with 3 hours of test time, but not if they give you four? People get nervous. That's life. Kids these days need to grow up and realize than everything that goes wrong is not because of a disorder of some kind.

    December 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Dennis Maverick

      You just said "kids these days need to grow up"... Well, they will eventually grow up, but until they do it is our duty as adults to give them the chances and provide them with the experiences to help get there. You said it: They are "kids"!

      December 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
      • Cobra-212

        Maybe part of the problem is that we don't allow them to grow up soon enough. We treat them as "kids" even when they are really adults, and by not exposing them to the real world soon enough we inhibit their ability to deal with it. To parents our children will always be our "kids," but in reality they have the ability to do a lot more than we give them credit for or allow them to do.

        December 14, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Luigi

      Yes, but some problems are caused by disorders. Of course, you did mention dyslexia so I think you realize that.

      I can think of one disorder that actually easy to measure, if you have enough data. Type 1 diabetes. Someone with a blood glucose (BG) of 50 isn't going to be able to think at a higher level. (This person could be minutes away from an ambulance ride if not treated promptly.) BG is easy to measure and it's rather hard to fake.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  34. macphile

    Perhaps this time-crunched exam isn't really the best approach to measuring ability, anyway. Goodness knows there are plenty of intelligent kids who can do well in school and in life who for one reason or another aren't going to get a great score. Meanwhile, others "cram" the thing and ace it but perhaps never really learn any material long term.

    Either way, there's nothing wrong with going to a junior college first. Your first couple of years are BS required courses, and a junior college is cheaper. After that, your choice of school really isn't going to make or break your life. I went to the city college here and am doing fine. It's not as if not going to an Ivy League school will result in your starving on the streets. Yet I knew of a girl in my high school who was under so much pressure–who had been raised with the mentality that anything less than exceptional is failure–she killed herself when she got a bad grade. Is that what we want?

    I recall not being too overwhelmed by the SAT. I did a little bit of brush-up on the question formats and stuff and maybe on math, but I pretty much looked at it as "I either know this stuff or I don't" and just took it. And I did well enough.

    Perfect grades do not equate to a competent and skilled employee–in fact, some companies don't want people like that. And allowing yourself to be defined by a series of numbers is going to lead to disappointment in adulthood. There are no SATs in adulthood. There are no tests. There are no As. You do your work the best you can in the time you have, and maybe someone will say, "Good job" and give you a couple thousand dollars more a year.

    December 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  35. Nancy

    Dyslexia is not a mental health disorder.

    from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002379/
    Developmental reading disorder, also called dyslexia, is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Developmental reading disorder (DRD), or dyslexia, occurs when there is a problem in areas of the brain that help interpret language. It is not caused by vision problems. The disorder is a specific information processing problem that does not interfere with one's ability to think or to understand complex ideas. Most people with DRD have normal intelligence, and many have above-average intelligence.

    DRD may appear in combination with developmental writing disorder and developmental arithmetic disorder. All of these involve using symbols to convey information. These conditions may appear alone or in any combination.

    December 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  36. Patricia Krahnke

    I am a college search consultant. I am 54 years old with an MFA in Creative Writing and 15 years working at the highest levels of college admissions. I took the SATs this past May, just out of curiosity. What happened? I froze up, and my scores showed it. Wow. Now I advise all my students to 1) do deep breathing exercises every time they start to feel anxious during the test, 2) eat a high protein breakfast prior to going into the test so they aren't foggy, 3) get four good nights of 9-hour sleep in the days immediately leading up to the testing date, and 4) don't take it too seriously. Many, many colleges are going SAT-optional, because the research shows that the SAT is not an accurate predictor of success in the first year of college. In the words of a very famous education researcher, the SAT is a great money maker for the College Board - and that's about it. There are as many ways to be successful in life as there are individuals. People were creative and brilliant contributors to culture and society thousands of years before anyone ever thought up the SAT. Ever heard of Socrates, Plato, Einstein, Shakespeare, Galileo, Benjamin Franklin, etc.? No one gave them a college entrance test and limited them based on their test performance.

    December 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Mike

      Yes, but if Socrates, Plato, Einstein, Shakespeare, Galileo, Benjamin Franklin were alive today, they would have to take the SAT!

      December 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
      • Ben Canard

        Well Mike. Only Franklin would have to take it. The US is the only country with an SAT, and other people on the list are from other countries. Shakespeare would have to take A Levels, which are much more stressful than the SAT because that test contains essay questions about the courses British students have been studying for two years and the grade determines whether the student graduates secondary school and gets into college. No other grades in secondary school matter. Only the ones the students get on the tests, which are given over a two week period and are meant to show the test-taker knows the subject s/he has been studying. I think the other Europeans would have to take similar exams. SAts are just stupid multiple choice exams.

        December 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
      • Mike

        As usual, CNN provides the "US is the world" view on the SAT. Ask most college students who received their primary and secondary education about the SAT and they just laugh. Standards for college admission elsewhere in the world are far higher than for run of the mill U.S. colleges, as they recognize that not everybody needs and can handle college level studies. At the top U.S. schools the foreign educated students come in up to a year ahead of even the best prepared American public school students. We give people extra time on a 3 hour test and then wonder why we can't compete in a global economy?

        December 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  37. disillusioned

    Well said, Julia.

    At the lunch period following a morning AP exam, I was chatting with "friends" – all top students – about the test we had just taken together when they started chuckling – they explained some one of their mothers had prescibed extra exam time for them due to a sudden bout of apparently contagious dyslexia, and that after lunch they'd be finishing the test that I'd just explained my answers to. I was terribly disillusioned at them, and despite that being a number of years ago, that last interaction before we all moved away will remain my lasting memory of those classmates.

    But I had no idea the problem is as widespread as you describe. The 46% figure at some schools unfortunately suggests that the College Board and the top colleges being targeted by these students are intentionally overlooking this, and so are essentially complicit. A college that wanted legitimate results has the muscle to refuse to accept the SAT until the policy is revised; I don't think [name an elite college] has to worry about not getting applicants for a year if they started only accepting the ACT, but the College Board would sure have to take notice. In the end, the disappointment I felt at those friends has also become attached to those colleges that have become proving grounds for the sort of mega-dishonesty we read about in the news daily.

    December 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Teacher

      "Mom" can't diagnose dyslexia. That is a special education diagnosis that takes about $5000 worth of testing through the school district before it is granted. Every year, the accommodations provided to a student are updated based on what has worked, what has not worked, and the specific needs of the student. It is not that easy to scam the system.

      For the people who claim Adderall helps everyone–that is a total load. People who do not have ADHD appear to be strung out on drugs when they take Adderall and similar drugs. The reason is that these compounds are all stimulants (Adderall is literally amphetamine). ADHD is caused by your brain being under stimulated. When people who actually have the disorder take the drugs, it calms them down and helps them focus. "Regular" people who do not have ADHD get more twitchy, have a harder time focusing, and feel high (hence the common, illicit trading of these stimulants on college campuses).

      Also–to those who comment about taking ACT instead...ACT makes the same kinds of accommodations. This isn't news. It is something that has been happening for years.

      Finally–colleges CANNOT ask what disability a person has and use that information as part of their screening process for admission. It violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, IDEA, and other relevant laws.

      December 14, 2011 at 12:11 am |
      • Juuka Morinaga

        What he meant was... disregard the SAT completely, which would not violate those privacy laws

        December 14, 2011 at 1:27 am |
      • disillusioned

        In my anecdote, they fully owned up to it – someone's mom was, I believe, a psychologist, and they said she filled out paperwork to pretend they had dyslexia. My gripe isn't about those who legitimately have this problem, but with a handful of classmates who admitted to the exact scam described in this article, but saved the usual fee for a convenient diagnosis by having a "doctor" in the family.

        I'm sure the ACT is the same, but that wouldn't stop a school's temporary boycott of one or the other from working. After one tightens diagnosis requirements, then apply the same pressure to the other the following year. The point is that the top colleges aren't the poor, unwitting victims here – if they actually wanted to stop this problem, they would have used their clout to do so.

        December 14, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  38. Why Use Facts

    It serves to level the playing field for those who legitimately need the extra time? How is that a level field? I thought a level field meant everyone playing by the same rules. I could play in the NBA if I were allowed to use a trampoline for dunking, that would level the field wouldn't it?

    December 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Juuka Morinaga

      That's not "level" in the minds of people. "Level" means people who have disabilities have something to compensate them so they are on the same level as people without disabilities

      December 14, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  39. musings

    Years ago, when I took the SAT, I did so with no anxiety, only ambition. I knew that there was a formula in the University of California system, and that I could use the SAT to leverage my way into it, in spite of some poor grades here and there. It would raise me out of the reject category for sure. Since I was an avid reader (sometimes to the detriment of my studies), and with adequate math skills, I knew this would work. But if it didn't? No shame in going to a good junior college in those days, and everyone got in. I was gratified to find that the test wasn't that hard, I did well, and I had an assured entry into UCLA if I could afford the living costs in Westwood (tuition was trivial, only a few hundred dollars a term).

    My kids, by contrast, grew up in an affluent East Coast suburb where all the kids take SAT prep for prices considerably more than a year at UCLA in my day. When their very good scores came back, they so similar to my own, I almost felt it was genetics - but what if they hadn't had the prep? Regression to the mean? No, I shared my love of reading with them from an early age. They bought their own books, and whiled away time with them. This stood them in good stead, and the prep was probably unnecessary.

    Moral of the story: read a lot while you are growing up. No matter what college you get into, reading will always be its own reward. But don't start too late. Knowing your way around your civilization is a process which cannot be rushed nor faked through a prep course. The math – make sure you get a good grounding in arithmetic – there are people who stumble because something was ill-taught in the fourth grade, and they could never move on. Then sail through the SAT's with a sure and certain sense that you know what you need to know. However, this will not solve today's expensive and arbitrarily selective colleges problem. Only a new economy will do that, and we are probably going to get worse before we get better.

    So cherish those books.

    December 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • LDthropia

      How about checking the percent granted accommodations by the College Boards out of those that applied? A little more research in actually talking to the College Boards would have made this article much stronger.

      It's very hard to get accommodations, and extended time is one of the most often granted- in addition to writing in the booklet, even if that's not what you need. This keeps the test substantially the same for everyone. Yet, you have to show that you not only have a disability, but that you need accommodations and have been using them consistently through your school career. Using them for the past year doesn't cut it unless you can prove your disability came within the past year (like from an accident)
      But some people need to have the test read to them, and some need to type their answers. Yet those accommodations are extremely hard to get, leaving some students to have to choose whether to take the SATs or prove themselves in other ways.

      If the College Board would school itself on disabilities and actually grant what the students need, that would be a good start.

      As far as work places- if a person can subtantially do the job, what business is it of yours if they have accommodations? It's the performance that matters. We all make accommodations for each other each day.

      December 14, 2011 at 8:09 am |