Academics / Community

Laughing through the pain: test memes

Although standardized testing is a dreaded annual event, many students look forward to the entertainment of memes after the fact to cope. For any standardized test, including the SATs, the PSATs, and AP exams, looking up the name of that test followed by “memes” brings up a variety of memes that relate to the test. Despite the fact that many students find these memes enjoyable, they are a violation of the non-disclosure agreement that every test-taker signs.

For example, one of the passages on the October 2019 PSAT reading test was from a historical article arguing against women’s rights and stating that women belong in the household and should not be involved in outside activities. An argument that the passage used to prove that women belong in the household was that households would internally fall apart if women were to venture outside. The passage author explained that if “the men exchange duties with them, as was proposed at the Convention, and stay at home and help their wives cook and wash the dishes,” the household would be a mess. One PSAT meme referenced this text through a picture of SpongeBob SquarePants washing dishes, with specific reference to the passage. The meme itself does not mention the PSATs but is tagged with “#PSAT” and “#psatmemes.” Anyone who had just taken the test would immediately recognize the reference.

Another meme connected to a PSAT reading comprehension passage regarding extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts. The passages focused on ambiverts, people who have a balance of introverted and extroverted traits. The meme asks, “The ambiverts. Ambi-whats?” joking about the unusual vocabulary in the passage.

These popular memes are easily accessible and spread quickly. Sarah Heald ‘21 comments, “After the PSATs I always have a game, and one of the things that I look forward to for the bus ride is looking at the PSAT memes with my friends” on the team. Maggie Noone ‘21 notes that “They are extremely accessible and I can find them anywhere, but I mostly find them on Instagram and Tik Tok.

The popularity of memes raises the issue of disclosing information. In the beginning of each test, students sign an agreement that states, “Sharing of test questions or answers is prohibited at any time. Never give questions or answers to anyone or discuss them by any means (e.g., email, text message, exchange via the Internet, or any other form of communication). There is never any point in time at which you are allowed to discuss exam content unless it is released as part of a College Board service.” 

However, in the process of making these tests memes, students are directly violating this agreement, and in turn, potentially compromising the integrity of the exams.

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