Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

The PSAT: an Objective Assessment

Posted by Michael Dickens on October 24, 2009

This is a biased student’s unbiased assessment of the fun and frenzy that the PSAT brings to the world.

The PSAT had the usual categories that you find on a standardized test: math, reading comprehension, critical reading. The math was pretty simple stuff: basic geometry, basic statistics (median, mode, etc), basic math rules (absolute value, integers vs. rationals, etc). It’s actually been a while since I did any of that stuff, but I managed to remember it all. After I finished, I tried to find a generalized form for approximating the nth root of a number.

The most fun part, though, was the part where we had to read a story or an essay and then answer questions about it. The questions themselves weren’t so interesting; but some of the little writings were actually very fascinating. There was one section with two short essays about grammar sticklers, which I found to be pretty hilarious. And there was one where somebody was bad-mouthing Wikipedia. I wrote notes all over the test booklet, deconstructing the essay. The essay cited a study that Wikipedia has four errors for every three that Encyclopedia Britannica has. And the essayist’s response was something along the lines of “no reference work is infallible.” While true, he or she is completely disregarding the fact that this study demonstrates just how accurate Wikipedia really is. Wikipedia is moderated; 99% of websites are not moderated. While there are many sources that are more reliable than Wikipedia, there are very few that achieve the same balance of reliability and accessibility. I could write about the benefits of Wikipedia for hours.

I certainly hope that the SAT is as amusing as the PSAT was for me.


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