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‘Academic bulimia’ and the test game

by Richard D. Erlich

I became aware of the problem early in my teaching career, in 1967 or so. We were doing a standard-definition exercise in a composition class, and a student was reading aloud her brief definition piece that began, “In the United States treason is” — and then merrily gave her own definition.

“Whoa!” I said, “Time out!” and made the “time-out” gesture. “If ‘treason’ is the word you want to define, you can argue for all sorts of definitions, but if you start a sentence ‘In the United States treason is,” you have to finish the sentence with the definition in the Constitution.”

(It’s Article 3, section 3, but I just looked that up; I couldn’t have given the citation from memory in 1967, and didn’t. But back to the story).

Blank stares from the class.

“It’s the one crime defined in the Constitution.”

More blank stares.

“You’ve got to know this!” I said; “You’ve all just passed an exam on the Constitution.” And indeed they had.



One-Third of U.S. Colleges/Universities Say ACT/SAT is Optional

The number of test-optional institutions in the U.S. has soared past the 830 mark, as five more schools – Agnes Scott, Assumption, Sacred Heart, SUNY Pottsdam, and Washington & Jefferson – have announced they are dropping ACT/SAT requirements.  About one-third of all accredited colleges and universities in the country now do not require all or many applicants to submit test scores before admissions decisions are made.

A regularly updated list of test-optional schools is available free online at: http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional.  Many more colleges and universities are reexamining their admissions requirements, often using FairTest resources, including the landmark report Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit: Enhancing Equity & Excellence in College Admissions by Deemphasizing SAT and ACT Results: http://www.fairtest.org/test-scores-do-not-equal-merit-executive-summary.

Text excerpt drawn from: http://aeroeducation.org/2009/11/19/one-third-of-u-s-collegesuniversities-now-test-optional