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teachers' guide: secrets of the sat

      
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The following discussion guide is designed to accompany either the one-hour documentary or the specially edited video clips found on this site. In addition to linking directly to the clips, each topic in the discussion guide includes a detailed clip description and time codes to aid facilitators in cueing appropriate segments in the full-length documentary.

Enhanced video clip "Are we obsessed with the SAT?" (Click to watch clip)
In cue 2:55, narrator: "An entire industry has grown up dedicated to raising test scores." Out cue 5:08, parent: "I just see how competitive it is to get into college now, and I can't imagine going through what they're going through."

This clip introduces viewers to the high end of SAT test preparation and to the Laguna Beach-based program The Cambridge Colloquium. Students as young as thirteen and fourteen enter for a five-year regular tutoring program at the price of $500 per year. The children dream of attending Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley, and Dartmouth, and their goal: a perfect score of 1600.

Use this clip as a workshop opener, asking students and parents if they relate to the issues faced by the students and parents in this clip. Do they think the students and parents in this clip are "obsessed?" Or are they equally as anxious about the SAT and its impact on their college futures?

Discussion questions

  1. Have any of you taken the SAT? How do you feel about your scores?
  2. Have you given any thought to what type of college you would like to attend?
  3. Do you have a list of target schools? Do you know what the median SAT score is at your target schools? Median GPA?
  4. How important do you think admissions officers rate an applicant's SAT score? What other factors do you think college admissions officers consider?
  5. What does "SAT" stand for? What do you think this test measures?
  6. Have any of you thought about test preparation? Have any of you taken a class, read books, or used other sources to get ready for the SAT?
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