College entrance exams best left to high schoolers

I’ve taken the ACT test twice in my life.

Once as high school junior — and once as a grown adult.

I had a chance at my previous job to take the ACT at Lyons Township High School along with other business people, to help us understand expectations on high school juniors.

I attended the study session. And I studied on my own (which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me). I’m happy to say I scored the same as an adult as I did as a high school student. But that was many, many, many years ago.

So when I saw a press release this week about adults in Illinois who took the SAT test, I was intrigued.

The email included some sample questions.

The first involved some simple algebra.

If x + 6 = 9, then 3x + 1 =

Easy. The answer is B, 10.

On to question 2.

“What does ‘burgeon’ mean?”

D, to rapidly expand

The press release praised Illinois adults for coming in 11th place nationwide in a quiz of 5,000 adults with SAT questions like these posted on the Jigsaw puzzle website No wonder, I thought to myself. These questions are too easy.

So I clicked on the bright blue “online quiz test” link.

More easy words to define, easy algebra problems to solve. The most complicated question was a word problem that required you to multiply 6 by 1.5.

Come on.

I am happy to report I answered 10/10 questions correctly to earn a ranking of “Teacher’s Pet!” This would roughly equate to a score of more than 1,050 out of 1,600, the website indicates.

I wondered how they determined that. If I scored 100 percent, why wouldn’t I earn a score of 1,600?

I found the answer by looking at a real SAT practice test online.

The puzzle website test doesn’t require any stamina at all. The SAT does. The four-part exam has 154 questions and lasts 180 minutes.

Guessing I would do pretty well on the reading comprehension and word choice and grammar questions, I skipped ahead to the first math test, 25 minutes, 20 questions.

Some were like the ones on the 10-question quiz.

And then there was this one:

“A summer camp counselor wants to find a length, x, in feet, across the lake as represented in the sketch above. The lengths represented by AB, EB, BD and CD on the sketch were determined to be 1,800 feet, 1,400 feet, 700 feet and 800 feet, respectively. Segments AC and DE intersect at B, and angle AEB and angle CDB have the same measure. What is the value of x?”

I studied the test’s reference page for a clue, but it was no help. I looked up the formulas for sines, cosines and tangents, but there were no right triangles on my sketch.

I remembered something about intersecting lines and opposite angles that are congruent, but it didn’t help.

And it’s lunchtime. And I’m hungry.

I try to look up the answer in the answer guide, and it’s not the right answer. I can tell because the explanation describes a different problem.

So I must have a test from a different year, but I can’t find a date on it. Anywhere.

I’m getting hungrier. And deadline looms.

I stop to eat, planning to take another quick look after I’ve had some nourishment.

And what do I find? I was looking at the wrong section of the test!

So, I’ve definitely learned something here. It has to do with rushing and following directions and eating breakfast (lunch in my case) all the other things adults like to remind kids about when they are doing homework or getting ready to take a test.

And the answer for the summer camp counselor?

It’s 1,600. Of course.

Not at all what my SAT score would be.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].