Exclusive: Leaked Scoring Rubric for the Reality TV SAT Question


Last Saturday’s SAT featured an essay question which is causing a storm of self-loathing among high-achieving teens because — gasp! — it was about the value of reality television. Essentially, it asked if the reality TV medium helps or hurts society, given the way it bills itself as authentic but has come to be very falsified. According to test-takers on the discussion boards at admissions-freakout website College Confidential, it’s totally unfair because American high schoolers are too intellectual to watch TV and, like, their SAT prep courses totally didn’t cover a question like this.

Originally, we thought it was a pretty manageable question, especially since students didn’t have to give reality TV more than a hat tip to flesh out the problem of authenticity in art if they didn’t want to. But then, an SAT grader leaked us* the scoring rubric for this Very Special Episode — er, Essay — and we’re now sympathizing with those poor kids! Check out what they’re up against after the jump.

SAT Essay Prompt Grading Rubric, March 2011


Effectively, insightfully developed positions that demonstrate superior critical thinking skills will receive full points.

• For essays that fall short, award:


Two points for discussions of the virtues and vices of GYM/TAN/LAUNDRY (“GTL”), GRENADES, or LAND MINES;

Three points to anyone who trashes the whole concept of an essay and instead writes out all of the LYRICS to the JERSEY SHORE THEME SONG.

Organization and Style:

• Full points will be given to essays with clear, thoughtful structures that remind grader of THE AMAZING RACE episodes. Full-credit essays must also be written in coherent, appropriate style.

• For essays that fail to do so, award:

One point to a bumbling mess of nonsense words in the style of PARIS HILTON, NICOLE RICHIE, or ANY OF THE KARDASHIAN SISTERS;

Two points to essays that use the word “DAWG” as punctuation, á la RANDY JACKSON;

Three points to essays written in the style of a FLAVA FLAV tribute rap.

Vocabulary, Word Choice, and Factual Accuracy:

• To receive full credit, a test-taker must combine and butcher as many words as possible for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, or, as we like to call it, “effectficiency.”

• A few factual errors are permissible to still receive full credit. However, no credit will be given to any students delusional or simple-minded enough to think that SAMMI and RONNIE are soulmates. This is the SAT, after all.

*In case you’re still confused, no one leaked us a scoring rubric. We made this one up.