At the convention of the National Association for College Admission Counseling last week, the SAT generated a lot of angst.
What I found amusing, however, was the discussion about developing a different test.
At a crowded conference session, experts seemed to be kicking around the idea of a personality test. An executive at the College Board suggested building a test that would measure noncognitive traits like leadership to assess whether a 19-year-old, who looks just like thousands of other kids on FaceBook, can hack it at college.
Maybe this could be on the test:
If you see a student passed out in the dorm hallway, you should:
A) Attempt to revive him.
B) Call the RA.
A) Grab his beer and step over him.
The testmeisters apparently believe that this sort of test would help a school determine whether an applicant is going to spend too much time playing World of Warcraft in his room instead of showing up for his organic chemistry lab.
Good luck with that.
Employers have used personality tests for years. I took one myself many years ago at the Miami Herald. When filling out the answers, I tried to figure out what the newspaper wanted to hear. I don’t think it occurred to me that I should answer truthfully. I wanted the job.
In fact, Knight Ridder’s personality tests were reviled by all the young journalists who I knew who had taken one. There were lots of conversations about how to game the system.
I’m confident that the test prep services could quickly begin instructing their teenage clients on how to game a touchy feely SAT test.
As for me, I bombed on the Miami Herald exam. While I was taking the test in an empty editor’s office, someone rushed in to turn on the television. Ronald Reagan had been shot.
My concentration evaporated, but that was okay because I ultimately got a job at the Los Angles Times instead. So much for personality tests.