SATs

The Scholastic Aptitude Test is the main standardized test used by colleges to determine the quality of applicants in The United States, covering reading, writing (which is now optional) and math. Generally, taking the SAT is considered a culminating moment in a teen's education and is the subject of much stress and studying. Its lesser known competitor is the ACT, which is the same concept, except it also covers science and social studies and it's a base-36 score—the SAT is more common at private schools and schools on the East and West Coasts while the ACT is more common at public schools and schools in the Midwest and South.

In 2005 the test was heavily revamped, most notably changing from a base-1600 score to a base-2400 score. Older programs will reference the old scoring system.

Britain also has two exams called SATs, but they're pronounced as words (sats) and taken before GCSEs.note 

The grad school version of this is the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).


The SATs provide examples of:

  • Achievement Test Of Destiny: For a long time, the SAT has reigned as the most important factor in college admissions. However, grades seem to have overtaken it. Also, some colleges these days don't require students to take the SAT or ACT to get in (but students are still encouraged to do so).
  • Awful Truth: Although they don't like to state it, individual students' scores rarely change much from attempt to attempt, and without a good enough one you're probably not going to get into your dream school.
  • The B Grade: A common reaction by a straight-A student to getting a good, but not perfect, score (it's nearly impossible to actually get a perfect score on the SAT or ACT).
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Many students who do well on the SATs but have subpar grades are this.
  • Child Prodigy: They're usually claimed to have aced their SATs at an early age.
  • Cram School: Generally averted; the material on the SATs is learned mostly in early high school and even middle school (however, many parents still have their children go to SAT/ACT-prep classes). Also, standardized tests aren't something you can necessarily study for (not that you shouldn't study for it).
  • 8.8: See The B Grade.
  • F Minus Minus: Scores generally have a bell-curve distribution, making it all the more of a middle finger when you score below 1000 or so.
  • Four Point Scale: As the test goes from 600 to 2400, the empty range is a third the size of the scored range. Even a 600 you won't get just by leaving every question blank; you have to answer about 12 questions wrong (and none right).
    • Moreover, at selective colleges, adcoms must choose among students with scores near the top of the scale, making them nearly meaningless at that level. Instead, grades, course rigor, extracurriculars, and essays are focused on.
  • High School Rejects: A possible consequence if you don't do well enough.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: You'd think so from reading peripheral materials about the kinds of schools people with certain scores should shoot for. Unfortunately, the Ivy League (and similar institutions like MIT, U-Chicago, and Stanford) are rapidly becoming less realistic as competition escalates exponentially.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Why do you think it costs so much to take the test and have it mailed to colleges?
  • Side Kick: The SAT Subject Tests.