Do you ever feel concerned that your linguistic skills might not be up to snuff to ace your SATs? Do you struggle sometimes to answer that SAT sample question that appears in your Inbox and asks you to identify the part of the sentence that’s wrong? Well, apparently you’re not the only one who is challenged. Following is a question pulled directly from the Clark University on-line Common App Supplement that has a word usage issue of its own. Can you spot the problem?
Option A: Exposure to the entire range of human knowledge will provide you with valuable perspectives as you define your personal and professional identity over a lifetime. Study of the liberal arts provides our students with the range of abilities required to adapt to the rapidly changing global culture and economy. To build those perspectives, Clark students often weave seemingly different disciplines into their educational experiences in imaginative ways. How might you want to compliment your primary academic interest with other fields of study so that you benefit from the possibilities offered by a liberal arts education?
Don’t worry if you didn’t pick up on it. It’s a commonly confused word. The word “compliment” is used incorrectly. Read that part again. You don’t want to say nice things to your primary academic interest! Well, maybe you do, but that’s not really what Clark University wants to know. They want to know how other fields of study will round out your educational experience. The question should have read: “How might you want to complement your primary academic interest with other fields of study…..”
Most students reading this question would understand what Clark was going for and answer it appropriately. So, no harm done. But, the irony is definitely there! An institution of higher learning that is going to be evaluating students’ SAT verbal abilities and judging their essays is the one that is making the linguistic blunder.
What should we make of this? Probably not too much. We know that Clark is a wonderful institution that offers students an excellent education and terrific overall college experience. Somehow, a mistake was made on their on-line Common App Supplement, but that doesn’t change the kind of a place that the school is. Certainly, we all get tripped up sometimes. Now, we know that even colleges and universities aren’t perfect. And that’s OK. We all make mistakes. We can only hope that admissions offices say the same thing when they review student applications!
***UPDATE: We contacted Clark University to let them know about the little word usage “oops” on their Common App Supplement. Don Honeman, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Clark University, acknowledged the error and thanked us for bringing it to his attention. The question on the Supplement is now fixed and reads properly.