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Should the SAT test TV knowledge?
The essay section of last Saturday's SAT implored students to write about reality television, rather than, say, literature or a historical event
An SAT question inspires debate about the fairness of testing students on their pop-culture mastery.
An SAT question inspires debate about the fairness of testing students on their pop-culture mastery.
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ome high school students were totally stressed out by an essay question on last weekend's SAT. It didn't prompt test takers to write about D-Day or Dickens, but rather, reality television. "Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?" certain students were asked. Fair question? Or a culturally insensitive one that assumes all students have a television and watch it regularly?

You don't have to watch reality TV to answer the question: The reality TV show prompt isn't unfair to students who don't watch trash TV, says Angela Garcia, executive director of the SAT program, as quoted in The New York Times. "The primary goal of the essay prompt is to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their writing skills." They won't be judged on their knowledge of "Jersey Shore," only their ability to clearly and coherently craft a compelling written argument.
"SAT's reality TV essay stumps some"

But it puts good students at a disadvantage: "I guess the kids who watch crap TV did well," says an anonymous honors student, as quoted in the New York Daily News. I was totally confused. That was not the sort of question my SAT prep classes drilled me for. I was expecting to write about literature or historical events. "Some of my friends don't watch TV at all. They are really, really scared."
"Snooki and Kim Kardashian as study tools? SAT gives TV-addled teens an edge with 'reality' question"

Calm down, everyone: "What a bunch of weenies these children are," says Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice. The prompt doesn't limit a student from mounting an argument, and this is all a lot of fuss over nothing. "Pushy parents" and their Ivy League-wannabe kids need to relax and stop complaining about such trivial issues.
"SAT question on reality TV gets entire New York Times article; Kids should chill"

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