Testing fatigue and the SAT: Is it too much of a brainnumbing thing?
How good would you be at sitting taking a high-stakes test for nearly four hours?
News reports last week announced that SAT scores, on average, declined 5 points since the new three part version of the SAT was made mandatory in March.
The new SAT, which debuted in March 2005, now officially lasts three hours, 45 minutes, but takes longer if instructions and breaks are included.
"Right now, it's longer than the GRE, the LSAT and the GMATs, and those are all taken by college students or college graduates," said Brad MacGowan, a guidance counselor at Newton North High School in Massachusetts, who has asked the College Board to let students split up the exam.
Counting tests taken through January, scores for the upcoming college freshman class are down between four and five points on the combined math and critical reading sections, according to the College Board, which owns the SAT. Full-year numbers are expected to show a "small additional decline."
Among other possible explanations for the decline, some speculate that since the College Board raised the cost of the exam from $28.50 to $41.50, many students are foregoing taking the test multiple times, although I fail to see how that would already be apparent immediately after the first time they gave the test. Students haven't had time to take the new version of the test more than once.
I personally never took the SAT-- most colleges I wanted to attend did not require it, and money was tight in the Cornelius household. I barely scraped together the money to take the ACT twice. I remember how it seemed like the GRE took forever, too.
However, I don't think it would be a bad idea to allow students to take the writing portion, which added 45 minutes to the length of the test, one day, and the other portion on another day.