Students complain after SAT question asks about reality TV

Pin it

I know that when you're in high school and there's a lot of pressure to do well, the SATs can seem like the biggest deal ever, because if you don't do well you won't get into a good school and you will become a smack-addled hobo, giving out handys in back alleys for drug money. That being said: get over it, kids. Because you can take the test more than once, and the recent essay prompt about the cultural impact of reality TV — which has some students and adults freaking out — was totally valid. Here's the question in full:

Reality television programs, which feature real people engaged in real activities rather than professional actors performing scripted scenes, are increasingly popular. These shows depict ordinary people competing in everything from singing and dancing to losing weight, or just living their everyday lives. Most people believe that the reality these shows portray is authentic, but they are being misled. How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?

Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?

Those unhappy with the question seem to think it punishes "good" students while rewarding those who watch Jersey Shore or Celebrity Rehab (and I think we all know that those kids are already on a one-way track to Back-Alley-Handjob Junction). But there are just so many reasons why that thought is ridiculous:

• If the essay portion of the SATs is about anything, it's faking it. Drop some names (I refuse to believe any teenager doesn't at least know the name of one reality show) and quote an author, you'll be fine.

• The kids who watched reality TV at the expense of studying will still not do well on this question.

• The SATs already have problems with assuming certain kinds of cultural knowledge with regards to test takers, except this time, it's the kids from Dalton who get shafted. (But… but they're rich!)

• You can take the test twice, and I get the feeling these kids would be anyway.

And this, children, is an important lesson in why the SATs do not measure aptitude.