Test Takers MOURN New SHSAT Format
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Two weeks before the SHSAT, New York City Department of Education (DOE) officials surprised prospective test-takers by announcing significant changes to the format of the exam. Dozens of students returned home from their 90-minute test prep sessions to find their mothers weeping in the kitchen. Eighth-grade students previously uninterested in the exam have signed up en masse, citing the DOE’s decision as “the best since remote learning.”
What changes were made, you ask?
Well, you may have heard of Wordle, the daily word game that has taken the world by storm. You may also have heard that, by definition, the SHSAT is a standardized test. And, stick with me here, chances are that you know of the DOE’s infamous penchant for minimizing their workload. Thus, their decision to replace the SHSAT with sixty “Wordles” to be taken in rapid succession within an hour (they were not able to come up with enough words to maintain the previous three hours of examination) logically follows.
In their statement to the public, the DOE outlined several resources to be utilized for practice by test-takers, including Disguised Toast’s YouTube video on “Wordle Battle Royale,” Bo Burnham’s song, “Words, Words, Words,” and the famous children’s show “Sesame Street.” They also listed an email by which they could be contacted in the case of any questions, which has since gone down due to “unconstructive criticism.”
Deputy Chancellor Benson, who was reached at his COVID-getaway in Maui, justified the abrupt decision. “I don’t see why we have to come up with a new test every October,” Benson remarked between sips of his margarita, “when we have months’ worth of perfectly good Wordles. We work hard enough as it is.”
We decided to reach out to students to get their take on the shift. Fourteen-year-old Samir Shaw responded to our questions by repeatedly muttering “AROSE… ADIEU… IRATE… OUIJA… CRANE” as he stared blankly into space.
Another student, eighth-grader Jake Lane, was unable to stop quoting Big Bird throughout the interview. “A stands for Apple. B stands for Beach. C stands for Curve,” Lane recited.
Soon the fateful day arrived, with hundreds of students congregating at testing sites across the city. Abuzz with tension, children huddled in packs, praying to unnamed Wordle deities for squares of green. Others flipped through Dr. Seuss books at terrifying speeds, hoping to find a hidden gem of a word amongst the two syllable nonsense. Many sobbed uncontrollably.
Unfortunately, our reporters were unable to follow into the testing centers, so we can only speculate as to what happened during the assessment. However, after the test, we were able to talk to Amo Gus, a 14-year-old from Brooklyn.
“So I made it to Wordle number 47. I was so close. So close,” he uttered before bursting into tears. “But… but, I couldn’t figure out the word. Later I found out it was…” Gus paused to sniffle. “SUSSY. It’s unnatural. No five-letter word should have three S’s.”