Passing the SAT

by Dave Barry

	OK, high-school students: I want you to stop piercing your noses for a 
	moment and listen to me, because I'm going to talk to you about a topic 
	that is more important to your future than anything else except 
	flossing -- your SATs.

 	It is very unfortunate that these tests cause some of you to experience 
	great stress -- or, as you say in your own teenage lingo, "make a cow." 
	You believe that if you get a low SAT score, you're a dope, and you'll 
	have to attend some third-rate college where the classrooms have wheels 
	and the athletic teams have a nickname like "The Fighting Tarpaulins," 
	and you'll wind up in some boring dead-end loser job such as rag picker 
	or leech monger or Whitewater investigator.

 	This is incorrect, young people! A low SAT score does NOT automatically 
	mean failure! Remember that Charles Lindbergh got only 240 on his verbal, 
	and he went on to invent the phonograph. And if that's not inspirational 
	enough, let me tell you a little story about a young man who took his first 
	SAT and did very poorly. His parents were disappointed; his friends laughed 
	at him; his dog went to the bathroom on his feet. But that young man did 
	not give up. He signed up to take the SAT again, and he prepared by 
	getting up every day at 3:30 a.m. to study, and when the time came to take 
	the second SAT, he walked into that testing room and set an American 
	record -- which will probably never be broken -- for falling asleep. Today 
	he makes his living wearing ill-fitting pants and serving contaminated 
	hamburger to the public.

 	The point, young people, is that there is a right way and a wrong way to 
	prepare for your SATs, and unless you are even stupider than you look, you 
	want to do it the right way. To help you, I would like to present the 
	following list of "Common Questions and Answers About the SAT," which was 
	prepared by the American Association of High School Educational 
	Professionals Hiding Out in the Lounge.

	Q. What is the SAT?

	A. The term "SAT" is a set of initials, or "antonym," standing for 
	"Scholastic Attitude Treaty Organization." This is a series of tests that 
	predict your ability to perform in the college environment by measuring 
	the degree to which you possess knowledge that nobody would ever in a 
	million years actually need.

	Q. What is the origin of the SAT?

	A. The SAT was developed by the prestigious Educational Testing Service, 
	which is located in Princeton, N.J., home of Harvard University. The 
	original idea behind the SATs, as stated in the E.T.S.'s Official 
	Historical Statement of Goals and Purposes, was "to sell a huge quantity 
	of No. 2 pencils that we ordered by mistake." So the E.T.S. invented a 
	standardized test wherein high-school students were required to fill in 
	circles on an answer sheet. The first SATs had no questions: Your score 
	was based entirely on how many circles you filled in, and you could get 
	extra credit by writing on your desk. When colleges complained that too 
	many students were getting high scores, the E.T.S. introduced questions, 
	mostly on topics of interest to E.T.S. personnel, such as "Where can you 
	get decent Chinese food in the Princeton, N.J., area?" Today, the 
	questions are developed by a prestigious team of world-renowned academic 
	experts, who get them from Jeopardy.

	Q. Does the SAT ever contain errors?

	A. Yes. Just last year, for example, an alert Michigan youngster named 
	Jeremy Winklehopper received national attention when he noticed that, 
	contrary to what he had learned in physics class, the SAT defined "gravity" 
	as "a type of snake."

	Q. What happened when this was brought to the attention of the Educational 
	Testing Service?

	A. Everybody enjoyed a hearty laugh, and then Jeremy's score was changed 
	to minus 46,000 points, thus assuring that no college would ever accept 
	him. He is currently employed in the field of urinal maintenance.

	Q. Was the SAT definition of "gravity" changed?

	A. Yes. It is now defined as "a heavy type of snake." 

	Q. What should I do if I don't know the answer to a multiple-choice SAT 

	A. Experts suggest that you start by "weeding out" the answers that are 
	obviously false. Some of the telltale signs to look for are:

	  -- The answer contains swear words.

	  -- The answer is followed by a little sarcastic note in parenthesis 
		such as, "Oh, sure, THAT makes sense." 
	  -- The answer contains the phrase "according to a White House 

	Q. I have heard that I can increase my SAT score by attaching a $20 bill 
	to the answer sheet. Is this true?

	A. "Absolutely not," stated an Educational Testing Service spokesperson 
	who identified himself as Bob. "You're going to have to do way better than 
	that, with the price of decent Chinese food being what it is in Princeton." 
	Bob noted that the record for highest SAT score ever is still held by 
	Donald Trump, who, while only in sixth grade, got 117 billion points.

	Q. Can you give me the answers to this year's SAT test?

	A. Well, I suppose if you sent me a large sum of cash money, I could. But 
	that would be wrong, and I would never do such a thing, according to a 
	White House spokesperson.  

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