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Forget flashcards! Watch reality TV and get into college

March 15, 2011 | 12:42 pm

Kim This just in: Snooki and Brad Womack could help teens get into college!

OK. That may be a slight stretch.

Some college-bound students who took Saturday’s SAT test were given this essay question:

“Reality television programs, which feature real people engaged in real activities rather than professional actors performing scripted scenes, are increasingly popular ... How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?

Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?”

We’re sure images of “Teen Moms,” spray-tanned “Jersey Shore” cast members and Kim Kardashian danced through the test takers' heads -- for the ones who didn’t take prep classes, at least. What about the poor souls who don't watch reality TV?

“We acknowledge that not all students spend valuable hours watching reality television shows, nor are we recommending that students watch these programs,” said Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of the SAT Program for the College Board, in a statement. “However, we have found from our pretesting that students not only grasp but are quite interested in the underlying issues covered in the prompt: the effects of television on society; the desire for fame and celebrity on the part of 'ordinary people'; the authenticity and value of various 'realistic' representations (an issue central to the study of painting, film, drama and literature)."

That’s good and all. But we at Showtracker think there are better ways to gauge college hopefuls’ intelligence. Here are some better (not really) essay questions for teens:

1) By Vinny continuously refusing to ‘smush’ Snooki, what does this really say about gender expectations?

2) Compare and contrast Kim Zolciak (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”) with Madame Bovary.

3) "I’m goin out tonight, it's goin down / Headed straight to the front of the line, on the fly /On the floor I cant stand still/ And I'm goin to work like I’m paying my bills (bills)" -- from Kim Kardashian's song “Jam”

Is Kim Kardashian demonstrating her independence by working the line like she’s paying her bills or is she simply a line cutter?

ShowTrackers, what do you think of reality TV making it as an SAT essay question? How would you answer the question?

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Kim Kardashian. Credit: D Dipasupil / Getty Images