The Hardest Part of the SAT: It’s Not What You Think

Abbey Fernandez , Web Opinions Editor
June 4, 2013 • 2,057 views

I’m an ACT girl. I steered clear from the SATs after taking my first practice test. The reading section was in a different language, and as for the math––I’ve never seen so many x’s on a page. It’s now clear my commitment to the ACTs was such a wise decision.

According to “The Case for Cursive,” an article from The New York Times “An ACT spokesman said students are not required to write in cursive on the ACT. A spokeswoman for the SAT…said students must copy a paragraph.”

A few weeks ago, I was cheating on my love, the ACTs, because I had to take the SAT subject tests. I know, I know, it was against my will because as I previously mentioned, I’m not an SAT fan, but it had to happen.

On that Saturday morning I woke up, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and drove over to Weston High School to take the standardized tests. Once I was in the classroom the proctor was reading his script, walking us through instructions before the test began. All was running smoothly.

“Please read the following statement and copy it in cursive, verifying that you have understood the statement,” the proctor instructed us.

Yes he said the C word. And my heart stopped beating.

Cursive? I haven’t had to write in cursive since third grade, when I was still a Brownie and had recess.  It’s been a while.

So when I was asked to write a statement verifying my testing integrity in cursive, they may as well have asked me to translate it to Mandarin.

Without a doubt, the hardest part of the SAT was having to write three sentences in cursive. Harder than diagramming the human eye, harder than solving a trigonometric function, harder than any of the test questions.

Those cursive workbooks in 2005–elementary school– did not adequately prepare me for the biggest writing challenge on the SAT.

That Saturday, I survived my SAT subject tests, no problem. However, my cursive was a fail. My statement ultimately was illegible, filled with block letters, some squiggles here and there, and even a Spanish accent on a letter or two.

I’ll stick to my ACTs, which of course come with their own challenges (breaking that childproof seal) The takeaway: if you plan on taking the SATs, you better brush up on your third grade cursive skills rather than mastering the test content.

 

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