Most Americans think of the SAT as the ultimate high-stakes college admissions test, but the Accuplacer has more real claim to the title. (As it happens, the same company, the Education Testing Service, produces both exams.) When students apply to selective colleges, they’re evaluated based on high school transcripts, extracurricular pursuits, teacher recommendations, and other factors alongside their SAT scores. In open admissions colleges, placement tests typically trump everything else. If you bomb the SAT, the worst thing that can happen is you can’t go to the college of your choice. If you bomb the Accuplacer, you effectively can’t go to college at all. The remedial placement process is ground zero for college non-completion in America.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 29, 2011
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3417 words)
He talked for a while about how difficult the first year after his divorce was and how it affected his work. "For one, I couldn't really talk about my wife anymore. Not that I was ever really talking about her, exactly, but now I couldn't do that at all; I couldn't talk about the woman I was divorced from. She deserves her privacy. But that meant I had no idea where I was going to get material. It was like, 'Oh, shit, there goes my act.' " He didn't really go into why his marriage ended, except to say that they hadn't been making each other happy for a while and finally had to admit it was done. "I just sat in my pajamas for like two years," he said. "And I was nothing for my kids. And then eventually I climbed out of it and was just like, 'I can't do this. I can't fuck around like this.' I focused on the kids, and they saved my life. I thought, 'Everything's based on them now.' "
Some 25 years have passed since the publication of Paul Fussell’s naughty treat Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, and I think this quarter-century mark merits the raising of either a yachting pennant, an American flag, or a wind sock with the Budweiser logo (corresponding to Fussell’s demarcations of Upper Class, Middle Class, and Prole). For readers who somehow missed this snide, martini-dry American classic, do have your assistant Tessa run out and get it immediately (Upper), or at least be sure to worriedly skim this magazine summary over a low-fat bagel (Middle), because Fussell’s bibelot-rich tropes still resonate.