Mr. Orlin is an inappropriate representative of Yale and the college selection process at elite schools. The interview is the one opportunity for students to put their true selves before an evaluating admissions person. Since application essays routinely involve adult guidance, interviews are the best way a college has of knowing the student “behind the transcript”.
Mr. Orlin’s description of his interview process shows he squandered the opportunity. “You take a smart, ambitious 17-year-old out for hot chocolate, ask him about his life, and then report back to the university ‘Yup, this is another great kid’ ” has all the markings of a government bureaucrat’s rubber stamp. With this blase, vapid interviewing, you are not allowing a extra-meritorious student to stand out.
An interviewer who takes the job seriously helps discern the depth of a student’s learning, the passion fueling a student’s extracurricular activities, and even the resourcefulness a student can show (or not) when posed a challenging question.
Answer: It won’t.
Most students will find excelling on the redesigned SAT more difficult. That owes to the injection of higher level math, scientific evaluations in reading, and analysis required on essays. Whereas the SAT tested skills that mainstream students are taught in at latest 9th grade, students are about to be tested on math usually not introduced until 11th grade, and in some schools NEVER introduced. Whereas the SAT tested reading and vocabulary exclusively, it is now punctuating its reading test with scientific interpretations of graphs and charts. Whereas the SAT essay asked for students to make an argument, it now requires them to analyze arguments others put forth, using rhetorical terms many students have never heard of.
Yet the Redesigned SAT was touted as “leveling the playing field”. How can is be? Here are two reasons why this is consistent.
Prof. Scherrer’s sad-but-humorous anecdotes are revealing and laudable. But we take issue with one of his contentions, perhaps the most important one: the earnings clout that a top college brings. Many studies have revealed the higher earnings associated with these colleges and universities.
The pre-tests portend an even greater disparity in scores between urban public school students and suburban students.
The Revised SAT will become more of a “diffuse knowledge” math test than a math-skills test. Math is being launched at students from more categories than before: students will need command of trigonometry, imaginary numbers, high level functions, and growth rates. Moreover, the Revised SAT math includes NON-categories, i.e. random problems that are rarely, if ever, covered in a math textbook.
For the few people who can get a more substantial reward from a minority recruitment program or a parent’s corporate program, the PSAT has meaning. For everybody else, the PSAT / Nat’l Merit is a distraction.
An easier-for-all SAT means Revised SAT scores will be artificially higher. But colleges will be wise to that. If 1400 is easier to attain on the Revised SAT, then colleges will need 1500 to be impressed.
When the SAT was “recentered” in March 1994, high recentered scores were not as impressive as prior scores that were 100 points lower. (Recentering added 110 – 120 points to mid-range scorers.) Colleges could tell the difference, and they certainly will know the difference if the scaling is skewed next year.
Study for the SAT or ACT Instead.
Feverish study for the PSAT is NOT worthwhile this fall. This year’s PSAT does not align with the SAT until March! Time spent studying for the PSAT thus takes away from studying for the ACT or current SAT (in use through January). Even a “perfect” PSAT is useless for college admissions recognition if it’s not backed up by a high SAT or ACT. Most colleges don’t even consider PSAT scores.
If interested in the financial side, AT MOST a great PSAT score gets you $2500 from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Some higher awards exist from outside groups, but you need to first be a member of that group (minority, or employee’s child).
By contrast if you concentrate on the SAT, you are in line for $50,000+ in merit-based money. You need not be a member of a group, and these scholarships are NOT need-based. They are available from colleges that view the high scorer who will attend as a talented asset.
Ivy Bound now tracks the awards its scholarship-seeking students receive. Our scholarship-seeking students in 2014 and 2015 averaged $68,600.