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Snooki Makes the SATs: Students Fret Over Reality TV Question

Mar 17, 2011 – 1:55 PM
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Ben Muessig

Ben Muessig Contributor

Students who blew off studying for the SAT may have Snooki to thank when their acceptance letters arrive this spring.

On the March 12 college admissions exam, students were asked to write an essay about reality TV and the concept of authenticity, leaving nervous teens to wonder whether Lauren Conrad is as good of a source as Joseph Conrad.

"Most people believe that the reality these shows portray is authentic, but they are being misled," the prompt begins, according to The New York Times.

The question alludes to shows like "American Idol" and "The Biggest Loser" before asking, "How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?"
Who would have thought
Who would have thought "Snooki" could help get you into college? Some high school students were surprised to find a question about reality TV shows on the SAT exam. "Jersey Shore" star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi -- shown here at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas -- found her way into the essays of many test-takers.
After the exam, concerned students took to the Internet to discuss the nuances of the question in a lengthy thread on the website

"I've never gotten such a ridiculous essay question. Hope they are lenient about it?" wrote one commenter. "Nothing would go through my head since I don't watch reality shows. ... I only vaguely know 'Jersey Shore' and its controversy with Italian-Americans so I chose that."

Many students were surprised to find themselves citing TV stars like Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi or Kim Kardashian instead of writers and historical figures.

"I never thought the Kardashians would play a role in my SAT essay, but I wrote how the Kardashians create the impression that one can be rewarded financially for doing nothing, whereas some of the most successful Americans came to this country with nothing and only saw results after years of hard work," another student wrote.

Others seemed relieved to be answering a question that was seemingly tailored for their TV diet.

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"Dude, I thought the essay prompt was beauuuutiful," another commenter noted. "But I didn't write about 'Jersey Shore' because I don't have anything bad to say about that show. Yes, you did read that correctly. ... I bashed 'The Real World' instead. Overall, I'm not sure how my essay went, but I did use nice vocabulary and structure."

Angela Garcia, executive director of the SAT program, told the Times the question was designed to be relevant and engaging for high school students.

"The primary goal of the essay prompt is to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their writing skills," she said. "It's really about pop culture as a reference point that they would certainly have an opinion on."

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