Monday, 11 February 2008

Mock Exams...

It's that season again: Year 9 have mock SATs exams. As I'm supposed to be teaching Year 9 after lunch, I have the joy of invigilating some of the exams. An hour of sheer tedium is about to ensue... at least I'll be able to recite a rosary as I wander round, and maybe even pray the stations. And yes, I know I can offer it up too...

...but it's still going to be grotty!


Anonymous said...


Can I ask a stupid question: are the American SATs the same as our SATs?


Mulier Fortis said...

Not a stupid question, and no, they're not... SATs (in the UK) just stand for standard assessment tests, and they're given at the end of key stages 2 and 3 (I think Stage 1 is totally teacher assessed) Stage 4 is tested by GCSEs and Stage 5 by AS and A levels. The tests relate to the national curriculum for schools. I could be wrong, but I think they're taken much later in the US, and aren't quite so curriculum based... but maybe some US residents can enlighten us on this one!

ACEGC said...

American SATs (Scholastic Aptitude Tests) are, as you say, less curriculum based and are seen more as college entrance exams. Most colleges require the SAT or the ACT (a pseudo-acronym that doesn't stand for anything); when I applied to Belmont Abbey, I submitted my ACT scores because they were much better.

The SAT has three parts: Verbal, Math, and a Writing section that was only added in the last couple of years (and has only as recently as this past year been considered in admissions criteria). The highest possible score in any section is 800, which means a perfect score is 2400.

The ACT is structured similarly, but it is scored on a scale of 0-35. A lot of people consider one or the other to be easier; I thought the SAT was easier but I ended up doing a lot better on the ACT.

Some colleges, depending upon the undergraduate program one wishes to enter, require the SAT II. These are more topically based; there are SAT II exams in various Sciences, advanced Math and English, and, if I am not mistaken, foreign languages, along with some other things. I didn't take these, as I didn't have to for admission to Belmont Abbey College.

Hope this helps.

Kasia said...

One small correction: ACT stands for American College Test, or at least that's my recollection.

Mac, excuse my Yankee ignorance, but what's "grotty" mean? (I can tell it's bad, but what's the specific meaning?)

Mulier Fortis said...

Kasia - "grotty" - British slang expression meaning nasty, unpleasant or unattractive.

gemoftheocean said...

Mark, one thing too..."SATs" in particular in the US are seen as a "gut check" on the student in that it is a national exam and are supposed to pretty much "validate" the grades a high school student has attained.

When applying to college the most important thing is the over all GPA (grade point average of the student.) X amount of study is typically expected of the matriculating student. Any decent college will require 4 years of college preparatory English + 3 of college prep Math (basket weaving and business math aren't going to cut it) a few years of foreign language study, history and sciences as well. We do not specialize as a rule as early as you do. HOWEVER, in the last 20 years a number of students take Advanced level placement courses which are also given a separate external exam and scored nationally. A year long college prep course counts as one Carnigie Unit. Typically 15-17 are needed for entrance to a good college.

The SAT helps a college sort out the wheat from the chaff -- an "A" from a ghetto inner city school doesn't tell you much, a "B" from Philips Exeter would be a much better standard, frankly. BUT a ghetto kid getting all "A"s WITH high external exam scores would be someone worth looking at for sure.

The guy from a tony prep school with a 3.5 or 3.6 and in the 1400+ range is a lot better off than a 4.0 from Watts High School and 1000 SATs. SATs aren't the be all and end all but they sure help. SATs are taken more on the west and east coasts, ACT tests operate a similar way and are more subject oriented, and tend to be taken by those applying for midwestern colleges.

The academic reputation of the school is also something experienced college admissions personnel are aware of. when I applied to UCSD (University of California, San Diego) in the mid-70s I didn't sweat the SATs because I knew my GPA was quite high enough and the academic reputation of my school would be enough to guarantee me a "lock and it did. It never even occurred to me to apply to a backup school.
(the UC system takes the top 12.5% of Cal. graduates - the California State system takes the top third.)

AP tests and courses were fairly rare when I was in college. Typically now students will have a couple aP classes under their belts now (at least ones from good academic high schools will) -- this would count for college credit, IF they score high enough on the external exam 3-5 points - then they don't have to take a college distribution class in the subject to fulfill undergrad requirements. If I had to guess an AP exam is about "A" level with a good grade.

US undergraduate programs are 4 years.


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