Monday, March 26, 2007

Les Perelman vs. the SAT Essay

Speaking at the Conference of College Composition and Communication Conference in New York City last Friday, Les Perelman of MIT showed how he coached at least one student on how to get a high score on the new essay portion of the SAT exam. He did it, he says, with the fundamental assumption that "The essay is a completely artificial and unnatural piece of writing.” Using a recognizable quotation from history, regardless of whether it's relevant, and including words like "plethora" and "myriad" go far in improving a score, he says. Perelman provided examples of student writing that show little regard for historical accuracy but use language and phrasing that seeks to impress readers at the surface level. Writing teachers, he says, need to work to get the exam changed.

You can read a complete article on the address, "Fooling the College Board," by Scott Jaschik, on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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