Sunday, May 07, 2006

An Allegation of Subtle Gender Bias in the SAT I Reasoning Test
One Student's Shocking Revelation

I recently took the SAT's. Since I finished each section in about half the alloted time, I had a lot of opportunity to look around the classroom, bite my fingernails, calculate powers of two up to 2^30, and discover a subtle gender bias inherent to the structure of the test. What I found may shock you. So be warned! These words are not for the wuss-of-heart.

For each of the nine multiple-choice sections, the answer sheet has 40 rows of empty bubbles to fill in, each row consisting of A, B, C, D, and E. These rows are arranged in 4 columns of 10 rows each. If the answers were chosen randomly so that no one letter was favored over another, the distributions would be roughly even, in the long run. This was my initial expectation.

However, looking at each column of my answers, I found that the distributions were rarely symmetrical. This is to be expected, since each column is not going to be a reasonable sample of all the answers. However, I began to wonder if the variance from symmetry was not just random, but systematic.

There were a total of 17 complete columns filled with answers by the end of the test. 8 of them had more answers on the left than on the right (bubbles A and B), and 9 of them had more answers on the right than on the left (bubbles D and E).

This is clear indication of gender bias. By the classical definition, "right" represents the masculine and "left" represents the feminine. By having more columns with answers on the right than columns with answers on the left, the SAT subtly pressures test-takers towards the masculine, and away from the feminine. Since all test-taking is ultimately an expression of the self, the College Board is forcing female and effeminately male test-takers to go against their true natures.

One might argue that basing this allegation on one test (my own) presents insignificant evidence to prove gender bias, especially when the difference between right and left is so small. However, the College Board's refusal of my request to provide me with complete test results of every student for the past six months only proves that they have something to hide.

One might also argue that I cannot base this allegation on my own test, since my answers might be, to put it bluntly, inaccurate. However, this is false; I received a perfect score on the SAT, so my test is indicative of the platonic ideal of all completed SATs, and is thus representative of the College Board's sexist standard.

Still unconvinced? There are 40 blanks for answers in each section. The prime factorization of 40 is 2^3 * 5. In the Pythagorean numerology, 2, the first even number, represents the masculine, and 3, the first odd number, represents the feminine. Their union is their sum, 5. With its answer sheet design, the College Board is telling each and every one of us that men are 3 times as important as the union of male and female.

Each and every one of us SAT takers deserves a personal apology from the College Board for this blatant misogyny. The only way the College Board can redeem itself in my eyes, and in the eyes of America, upon the revelation of this truth, is by redesigning the test at its core so that the answers are arranged radially, rather than in columns, thus making the distinction between right and left, and by extension the distinction between male and female, meaningless.



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