Luckily for me, there was no writing section when I took the SAT. I remember reading about the new section they were adding and thinking that it was a step backwards. One of the only redeeming features of the SAT was that it was almost completely objective; there was one right answer, and no human judgement was necessary to grade it. I assumed that this would change with the written section, but I was wrong.
He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. 'I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one,' he said. The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.


Perelman contacted the College Board and was surprised to learn that on the new SAT essay, students are not penalized for incorrect facts. The official guide for scorers explains: 'Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or ' 'Anna Karenina,' a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' (Actually, that's 1775; a novel by the Russian Leo Tolstoy, and poor Anna hurls herself under a train.) No matter. 'You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of facts.'"


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