Saving the College Board from Itself

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?

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About Will Dix

I am currently writing a book about college admission. I'm interested in the intersection of the college process and American culture. I attended Amherst College in the 1970s, taught high school English and theater at The Hill School in the '80s, returned to Amherst in the '90s as an admission dean, and began the '00s as a college counselor at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I then joined Chicago Scholars as Program Director. Currently, I blog about college admission for Forbes.com. I also help community organizations serving low income students understand the college admission process so more students can consider gaining access to higher education. I have a few private college counseling clients that I take by referral only. The views expressed in this blog are mine alone.
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