So here’s the deal. The College Board, which oversees the SAT, now calculates an “Adversity Score” for each test-taker. The score incorporates data such as the crime rate, median income, and educational attainment of residents in the student’s neighborhood. The higher your Adversity Score is on a scale of 1 to 100, the more disadvantaged you are presumed to be. The reason for doing all this is to help colleges and universities interpret any given student’s SAT score.
But this week the stakes went up. ACT, Inc., the College Board’s rival that administers its own standardized test for college aspirants, has developed the Impaired Performance Indicator (IPI), which reflects events that could affect a student’s state of mind in the 24 hours immediately preceding his or her taking the test.
Here is a partial list of factors included in the IPI, along with their point values:
— Falling face-down on a sidewalk due to intoxication: 62 points
— Shattering one’s smartphone in the fall: 232 points
— Experiencing a tsunami bowel disturbance as a result of food poisoning (e.g., spoiled burritos, tainted scallops, rancid Buffalo wings, Peeps of any variety): 30 points
— Death of a pet (dog: 50 points; cat: 5 points; all others: 25 points)
— Discovering that you or your significant other is pregnant (you: 612 points; significant other: 17 points)
— Termination of a romantic relationship (initiated by you: 24 points; initiated by other party: 53 points; initiated by other party after you’ve dropped several hints: 6 points)
— Your favorite sports team loses (last-minute defeat: 42 points; game wasn’t close: 9 points; you had borrowed money from someone with a homicide conviction to bet on the game: 154 points)
— Your parents inform you they’re getting divorced (72 points)
— Your parents inform you they’re getting married (72 points)
— You find out that Blanche — your disagreeable older cousin in Topeka — is actually your mom (894 points)
— You come to the sobering realization that human existence is nothing more than soul-crushing injustice sprinkled with random, senseless tragedy (500 points, reduced by 45 points if realization occurs while smoking marijuana)
According to an ACT spokesperson, the IPI is an infinitely more valuable tool for evaluating an individual’s standardized test scores than “the SAT’s silly little Adversity number. It’s a slam dunk. Game over.”
If you listen carefully, you can still hear the backboard rattling.