As I teach SAT and ACT prep classes, I read a lot of students’ practice essays. On the SAT, the questions tend to be quite abstract: “Does human progress rely on respect and appreciation for nature?” The ACT usually gives a high school-related scenario (should athletics or arts extracurriculars receive more funding?). Either way, the students are frequently baffled by the task, though some surprise me with their wit and creativity.
It seems the case is similar for grade-level standardized tests, as illuminated in an op-ed column in today’s New York Times. I especially like the graphic: