Curious Opposition to Tutoring among Exam Setters

I mentioned a NYT article about widespread tutoring in Manhattan previously.

Very early on the article notes that “Riverdale discourages […] tutoring” referring to Riverdale Country School, apparently a fancy private school in NYC.  This school requires the SSAT or ISEE test for admission, both SAT-like tests for younger children (for entry to middle and high school).

This appears to be a common pattern among institutions who administer admission tests, i.e. they like to discourage tutoring for these tests. Whether it is based on an argument (this seems to be quite transparently false) that these are “aptitude” tests and thus can’t be prepped for, or on an equally spurious argument that prepping is undesirable and not conducive to the development of students.

Even in a hypereducation system like Japan, officials at schools that require entrance examinations often stick to the line that their test can be mastered (i.e. passed with a very high score) without any particular coaching. This would have to mean that a high score can be achieved on the basis of school attendance only. Or so, some of the exam setters claim. Most parents seem to disagree.

Why I understand that no exam setters wants exam takers to be able to “game” the exam, I am less certain where this allergy against test preparation among exam setters comes from. I suspect, however, that it is an element of embarrassment as the perceived need for tutoring exposes the fact that such tests do offer greater chances at higher scores to exam takers who devote resources (time and money) to exam preparation; resources that are obviously limited and distributed unevenly among the potential test-taking population.

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