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None of the Above: The Truth Behind the SATs (Culture and Education Series) Paperback – September 28, 1999


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Paperback, September 28, 1999
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Product Details

  • Series: Culture and Education Series
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; Rev Upd edition (September 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847695077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847695072
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,634,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

None of the Above is the best book ever written about the SAT. It's well-researched, accurate, and appropriately scathing. At the same time, though, it's funny, well-written, and a very easy read. Every student, parent, and admissions professional should read it before discussing college admissions. (John Katzman, President, The Princeton Review)

America's story in the years since this book appeared is largely the story of an upper tier of Americans whose opportunities and tribulations are separating from those of the average citizen. The SATs remain an important part of the support structure for that tier. David Owen's description of them is as wickedly funny as it was in 1985, and even more important. (Jim Fallows U.S. News and World Report)

It may take even longer for corporate test manufactures to meet their comeuppance than it takes for cigarette and handgun manufacturers to meet theirs. But when it happens, we will thank the authors for this update of our outrage." (Jeannie Oakes, Professor of Education at UCLA and author of Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality, Teaching to Change the Wo)

The book is immensely readable. Recommended at all levels. (CHOICE)

About the Author

David Owen is an award-winning journalist and a staff writer for the New Yorker. He lives in Washington, CT.
Marilyn Doerr teaches science and math at the University School in Cleveland, Ohio. She lives in Novelty, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chris Carter on July 19, 2000
This book blows the cover of respectability and objectivity that has benefited ETS for decades. It exposes the company for what it is: a deceptive, revenue-hungry, socially-irresponsible organization. ETS calls itself a "non-profit institution" but this is shown to be a smokescreen. It is non-profit in the purely accounting sense in that it has no shareholders (it was founded by a grant by the Carnegie Foundation), but the company does everything it can to maximize revenue after costs. The employees pay themselves exorbiant salaries, and the campus includes tennis courts, riding paths, a golf course and a hotel! Also, the company does not even have an honest mailing address: all it has in Princeton is a mailbox! There is no relationship at all between ETS and Princeton University.
David Owen's book actually goes much further, and explains how the tests themselves are deeply flawed. They are not measures of aptitude, but are in fact highly coachable (a fact ETS has tried to hide for years). This book is a must read for anyone interested in the truth behind ETS and standardized tests.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Horrigan on July 10, 2006
This is a 1999 revised edition of David Owen's classic 1985 expose of the SAT and other Educational Testing Services tests. The first edition was in turn based on a series of earlier magazine articles, dating back to the early 80s. The revisions are fairly minimal: the vast majority of the material is well over 20 years old (and even the revisions date back almost a decade.)

There have been some changes in the SAT since 1999. The biggest is that the Educational Testing Service lost the SAT contract (something which Owen & Doerr said was virtually impossible, because of the symbiotic relationship between the two organizations.) The SAT is now administered by Pearson NCS. (ETS still adminsters many other standardized tests, however.) Another big change is that the analogies questioned have been eliminated.

The change which got so much publicity in 2005--- i.e., the addition of a third section with composition questions and an open-ended essay question--- was actually a relatively small one. The multiple choice portion of the composition test was merely an expanded version of the composition sections on the old Verbal test. Moreover, open-ended essay questions are nothing new: Owen even talks about how such questions are scored. (Basically, they are scored very quickly and superficially.)

Even though the book is out of date in some ways, in others it is more timely than ever. Especially since the passing of the

"No Child Left Behind" act, the standardized testing industry is more powerful than ever. (And it hasn't become much more competent--- or much less arrogant-- since Owen wrote his articles almost a quarter century ago.) In the 20th century, high-stakes testing was rare below the high school level.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2000
I read this book when I was in 8th grade, before taking the PSAT or SAT or any achievement tests -- it helped me so much, because it gave me a framework to understand what the tests are actually designed to measure (*not* scholastic aptitude as such)... when it came time to take the tests, I already knew that I was being tested on my ability to read the testwriters' minds and figure out how they were trying to trick us! Knowing that saved a lot of heartache, and also made it easier to answer the test questions and improved my scores.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jose Hanson on August 28, 2005
Verified Purchase
And don't take a standardized test until you do, or if you know someone who suffers from test-anxiety over the SATs -- and virtually every high-school student in the U.S. who hopes to go to college probably does -- it's the best gift you can give. Just don't make it a graduation present: a student needs to have read it by the end of the sophomore year.

I'm betting Owen's book will improve the student's score and greatly reduce nervousness by showing how such standardized tests work (or more correctly, don't work.) Also, I think, Owen will help the student see that the score, high or low, doesn't really measure anything but skill at taking the SATs themselves.

I've recommended this book to dozens of students and parents and have never had anyone tell me I steered them wrong. Go ahead and read books about preparing for the SATs and maybe even take classes on improving your score, but read this book first.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jake F. Heimark on May 30, 2006
If you are looking for a book to help you understand academic testing and its negative impact on our culture, this is it.

David Owen is unique in that he both understands the advanced statistics behind these tests and has a real "voice" in telling his story. This book reads like a pleasant dinner conversation and is full of information that will keep you coming back for more.

This is the end all be all of SAT books.
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