For once I'd like to help out the College Board by giving them a handy list of excuses for next time there's a scoring "decorrectness event." (I made that up...) The "humidity" thing is all well and good but you can only use that once. Therefore, here are my humble offerings, which I present to the CB free of copyright. Hey guys, you can store them for the future or use 'em in different sections of the country!
1. Mice. There were mice in the machines and they gnawed the corners of the answer sheets just enough to have them be misread. Also, droppings.
2. Chocoholics at the scanning center. This excuse would probably not be allowed due to ADA, but clearly, chocolate melted on Hershey- craving fingers and then smeared onto test sheets would disrupt the process.
3. The earth's magnetic field. It's well known that the earth's magnetic field shifts every once in a while and can disrupt machinery, even, in theory, destroy life on earth as we know it. Still, there would be tests, wouldn't there?
4. Sunspots. See #3 for the basics, but imagine what one of those suckers could do to an otherwise well-written essay.
5. Lentils. Dry, they look very similar to filled-in ovals on an answer sheet. Damp and they might stick. A rogue vegetarian with poor table manners is all it would take.
6. Butterfly ballots mistaken for test answer sheets. VERY bad mistake. Not only would scores go up and down indiscriminately but the Supreme Court would have to get involved.
7. The butterfly effect.
8. We were reading The DaVinci Code at the time and couldn't put it down. But we managed to insert a secret code that will guarantee you admission to any college you want if you can find the right answer sheet and interpret it correctly! (HINT: The filled-in answers create a portrait of Gaston Caperton)
9. Test takers deliberately moistened their answer sheets with Chanel #5, knowing that its chemical formula and captivating odor would stop any scanner in its tracks. Hugo Boss or CK One works just as well.
10. Stupidity. No wait, cupidity. No, lucidity. Definitely not. Uh, humectants. Hubris. Hootie and the Blowfish, yeah, that's it! No, their last album sucked. Listen, why don't you all just go away and leave us alone for a while and we'll come up with something, OK?
College Access Counseling
My firm, College Access Counseling, Ltd., works with adults and organizations who counsel and support first-generation and minority students on the way to college. I teach the ins and outs of the college process, helping them build social and cultural capital for their students. Click here for more information. I also write for NACAC's blog, Admitted. You can read my entries as well as some of my colleagues', here. Click here to read one of my entries in the New York Times's blog, The Choice.
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Books About College, Teens, and American Culture
- A History of American Higher Education
- A Hope in the Unseen
- Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
- African Americans and College Choice
- Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
- Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
- Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers
- Campus Life
- College Access & Opportunity Guide
- College Admissions and the Public Interest
- College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family
- College Gold: The Step by Step Guide for Paying for College
- College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready
- College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy
- Colleges that Change Lives
- Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing
- Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
- First in the Family
- Fiske Guide to Colleges
- Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence the Decisions Students Make
- Harvard, Schmarvard
- Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private & Social Benefits of Higher Education
- Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
- I Am Charlotte Simmons
- Increasing Access to College:
- Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admission and Beyond
- Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions
- Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered America
- Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
- Looking Beyond the Ivy League
- Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions
- Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
- Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
- Race and Class Matters at an Elite College
- Rescuing Your Teenager From Depression
- Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
- Sophomore Guide to College & Career: Preparing for life After High School
- Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It
- Status Anxiety
- Taking Time Off
- Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education
- The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
- The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive & Reconnect with Their Fathers
- The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools
- The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
- The Culture of Narcissism
- The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
- The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in American Life
- The Little College Handbook: A First Generation's Guide to Getting in and Staying In
- The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
- The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfull a Dream
- The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life
- The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges--and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
- The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
- The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager
- The Secret Lives of Overachievers
- The Unintended Consequences of High Stakes Testing
- Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education
- What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens