Ellie Newman interviews SAT and ACT test prep expert, Joe McGovern, in this episode of That Got Me Thinking, a thoughtful and thought-provoking podcast. Listen as the conversation turns to standardized testing and college admissions. Who knew this would be the most exciting topic of the year?
The recent college admissions scandal has shone a new light onto the fairness of the process of applying to, and being accepted by, elite universities around the Nation. And it has brought a slew of new questions into our minds regarding the assessment tools used by these universities to gauge students’ preparedness and qualifications: Is there bias? Can students work hard and get a fair shot? Is the system rigged? Are the SATs and ACTs friends or foes?…And my favorite, who knows how a zero is related to a factor in a quadratic equation, and if I don’t will I fail the SAT?
Well, lucky for us, our test prep hero, Joe McGovern is here to set the record straight. He tells us, “The SAT isn’t the enemy. The College Board has a job to do.” And he believes they are doing a good job. There job is to identify the kids who have the skills, knowledge and material that it’s probably going to take to be successful in college and beyond. Joe’s job is helping these kids to have what it takes to end up on the upper end of the spectrum created from testing results. He believes the skills and knowledge that are tested for on the SAT are pretty much a corollary for what students need to succeed in college, especially in relation to English studies. And, the Mathematics portions of the exams accurately test the thinking skills that one needs to connect the material to the problem and find a creative way towards the solution to the specific problem- skills necessary in math and life. (Turns out knowing the relationship zero has to a factor isn’t quite enough.)
The SAT presents a myriad of problems to solve. And Joe’s challenge (which he finds fun and exhilarating) is to figure out with each and every unique student, how he will get this material into this kid’s head in such a way that they can produce it in the test and get a good score that accurately represents their capacity for success. People think in different ways; therefore, Joe devises successful strategies to help non-linear thinkers to sequentialize – to read, understand, calculate and come up with the correct answers . And yes, he confirms the tests are trying to trick us, but in a good way!