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Testing behemoth ETS announced a re-revised SAT for 2015, trying to stay one step ahead of its rival and the legions of teenagers who game standardized tests. Suggesting the vocabulary section was intended as “a proxy test for wide reading,” Chad Orzel says memorizing obscure words is “dumb and pointless, but probably takes less time than getting a large vocabulary the ‘right’ way.” Indeed, in the contemporary college prep atmosphere of clubs, sports, musical instruments, and hours of homework, who has time to read anyway? Even English students are likely to stick to SparkNotes (whose homepage, incidentally, features celebrities and kittens, not To Kill a Mockingbird).

There’s an obvious problem: if we expect kids to do everything, they won’t have much time to do anything. And what little free time they find will probably go toward a PlayStation 4 (or sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll). But on USA Science & Engineering Festival, Joanne Manaster says reading a lot “is one key to becoming successful in science and engineering as well as other fields.” She says we must challenge ourselves, that “our brains and our very essence of being thrives on that challenge.” Interested kids (and adults) can prepare for the SAT (and/or life) by making time to read a book, such as one reviewed by John Dupuis on Confessions of a Science Librarian.

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