SAT chief Laurence Bunin says students should have been able to answer a controversial essay question on reality TV even if they'd never heard of Snooki or Randy Jackson. And that's the point critics are missing, he argues in the Daily Beast. They "confuse the literal topic with the task of writing the essay." The question itself contained all the information students needed to complete the "central task," he writes—"to take one side of an issue and develop an argument to support that position."
Bunin acknowledges that many teens may not be familiar with the goings on of reality TV shows, nor is the College Board suggesting they should be. "However, we have found from our pretesting that students not only grasp but are quite interested in the underlying issues covered in the prompt," including TV's effect on society and non-celebrities' desire for fame. It doesn't matter what Snooki's up to.