Dear Matthew Makel,
You are registered for the SAT with Essay on March 05, 2016.
Thousands of people are receiving similar messages as they prepare to take the SAT. Most will be high school students preparing for college, a smaller portion will be middle school students participating in talent searches. I’m guessing that very few will be 36-year-old, PhD-holding professional researchers. But I know that there’s at least one. Because it’s me. I am performing a research STUNT (SAT Taking to Understand the New Test).
Why am I doing this?
That’s the obvious question. Before I answer, let me give you some background. I am a researcher at the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP). As a national academic talent search, Duke TIP identifies academically talented students by using above-level tests to help students and their families understand better what their educational needs are.
As part of Duke TIP, I study the academic and social development of academically talented students. How do such students experience the world? (Fast answer: often quite rapidly.) What are their school experiences like? (Fast answer: it often depends on where they go to school.) What are their social lives like? (Fast answer: generally, quite good.)
I also study things like the SAT and its use as an above-level test for academically talented students.
On March 5, 2016, the redesigned SAT will debut (more on the redesign in future posts). This marks the second overhaul of the SAT since I took it as a high school student. Such changes to tests make many apprehensive and nervous. I wanted to do something to help our students and families feel comfortable and confident with the testing experience, and personal stories are often more helpful than simply writing about research results and statistics. What’s more personal than taking the test myself?
Regardless of the specifics, one of the biggest events in an academically talented student’s life is usually taking the ACT or SAT. So when I heard that, as of March 5, 2016, the SAT has been redesigned, I knew I needed to take action and see the changes for myself.
My goals with this process are:
- To ensure that our families understand the test-taking experience
- To stay connected to the experiences of our students and families (firsthand knowledge is a great way to learn)
- To do whatever I can to help make sure that students of any age taking the SAT (or the ACT) do not feel scared or intimidated by the experience.
Both before and after I take the test on March 5, I’ll be blogging about my experiences and my preparation all the while slipping in relevant research results.
I hope a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down.
**This post is part of a series called STUNT: SAT Taking to Understand the New Test.