Longer = Better?

For as long as I have been studying and proceeding through the levels of academia, I have been preached to about the virtue of conciseness. The writing bible has contained the philosophy of brief, articulate, succinct sentences that convey the message appropriately and effectively. Now, this story comes out about performance on the SAT indicating a favor in the corner of those with a penchant for verbosity. Maybe I should try my pen at it again for giggles as I finish up my application process to law schools. They sure don’t value wordiness in the slightest.

This new study was conducted by a 14-year-old high school student, Milo Beckman, who has been deemed a “prodigy” by the New York Observer. (More information can be found here). He surveyed his fellow SAT takers and found that all received an equal of higher score on the SAT when writing a lengthier essay. His findings were corroborated and affirmed by an MIT Professor. This seemingly forced a statement from the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT exam. College Board responded essentially saying that the longer essays usually contained more effective means of conveying heavier, “nuanced” concepts.

Additionally, College Board asserted the essay portion as the best indicator of success in college. Hmm… If that is the best indicator of success in college, why, ohh why, would we even take the rest of the test? What reason or purpose might the rest of the test serve, other than an ineffective measuring stick for collegiate success? The College Board seems to have a public relations issue on its hands with this one.

We wonder why education is floundering in this country compared to the rest of the world, yet we blatantly and openly contradict ourselves throughout our educational process. If we preach long-winded lengthy writing, but then funnel these students into institutions that await them with a nice felt-tipped red pen ready to destroy their confidence and rock the foundation our high schools and other grade levels have set for them, what are we doing, but hurting ourselves in the long run? Answer: Nothing. This study is perturbing and insulting to those of us who have been adhering to the direction of our teachers for years upon year. Here, I have been indulging in my own proclivity for flowery loquacity without restraint for the first time in years for fear of the red pen and only now do I find that I might have had more incentive to rebuff those teachers and professors who meant to curb my “repugnant inclination for wordiness” from the onset of such attempts.

What is a starving student to do?


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