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What It Really Means When An Athlete Says
He Or She "Passed" The SAT--(April 17, 1998)

You've been reading a lot lately about some seniors who have signed Letters of Intent, and some who are about to sign LOI's. By and large, they are all concerned about "qualifying". They and others use terms such as getting a "passing" or "qualifying" score on the SAT or ACT. Likewise we've been reading a lot lately about those who have gotten their scores and have been saying that they "passed" the test. We've also been reading about juniors who are taking the SAT or ACT early (although the spring of junior year is not really "early", it's about the right time), who have reportedly "passed" the test.

So what does it mean to "pass" one of these tests?

Actually, the use of the word "pass" is somewhat of a misnomer.

It's next to impossible to "flunk" or "not pass" the SAT (or ACT). Although ETS -- the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey which owns and administers the SAT -- won't admit it, we have it on pretty good authority that a student gets a minimum score of 400 just for writing his or her name and opening up the test booklet. At least that's one of the great urban legends, which probably got started because nobody really knows anyone who has ever actually been stupid enough to admit to scoring less than 400 on the test. No offense if any of you out there weren't bright enough to figure out how to score higher than 400, but seriously, we've never heard of anyone scoring that low who hopes to play college basketball. After all, we're still talking college here, as in Division I major institution of learning. If you scored 400, you better crack the books and start thinking JC, because you won't be doing yourself a service anyway even if there was some way to get in to a major college (unless you're a "Partial Qualifier", and even in that case, 400 is a bit on the, shall we say, low end of the spectrum, since the minimum score is 720 as a "Partial Qualifier". We'll have more on PQ's later.

For now, what does it mean really to say that an athelete as "passed"?

It can mean a variety of things, depending on the student's GPA. However, under basic eligibilty requirements (and assuming the student is not "home-schooled" as to which different requirements apply--gee, another "exception"), it generally means a score of somewhere between 820 and 1010 on the SAT, and between 68 and 86 on the ACT, or the American College Test (which really nobody took in California 25 years ago when we went to school here, but that's just because most four year institutions didn't accept the results from that test; since then parity, as in most things, has taken hold, and most institutions of higher learning will take both).

Got that?
SAT: 820-1010;
ACT: 68-86 ACT.

There's far more to the NCAA Academic Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Student Athletes, including "core" courses which must be completed to be a "qualifier", and we'll have more on that later.

But for now, here's the table showing what Grade Point Average (GPA) and Scores must be achieved. This "Qualifier Index" comes directly from the NCAA:

Qualifier Index

 Core GPA             ACT           SAT 
_____________   __________   ________
 2.500 & above          68            820
 2.475                        69            830
 2.450                        70            840-850
 2.425                        70            860
 2.400                        71            860
 2.375                        72            870
 2.350                        73            880
 2.325                        74            890
 2.300                        75            900
 2.275                        76            910
 2.250                        77            920
 2.225                        78            930
 2.200                        79            940
 2.175                        80            950
 2.150                        80            960
 2.125                        81            960
 2.100                        82            970
 2.075                        83            980
 2.050                        84            990
 2.025                        85           1000
 2.000                        86           1010

We've eliminated the reference in the NCAA's own original table (which you can also find online at the NCAA's own website) to the scores required if the test was taken before 1995. The table as it appears on their site was developed in 1995-6, and it thus covered a period when the requirements changed. Hey, it's 1998, so we probably don't care about test scores taken in 1995, unless you've been in high school for a reeeeaaaaallllllly long time, and then there's not much we can do to help you here.

So what "passing" really means is a variety of things, but generally it means a test score in the range shown above. Of course this does not mean that if an athlete has a 4.0 GPA that he doesn't need to score above 820; such an athlete would merely need to score 820, but we're certain that if a student with a 4.0 only scored 820, any college would have to question his grades.

Which brings us to the next point. You can't take just "shop" classes or PE. There's a little something called "Core" courses. We'll have that in our next article.

But at least you all know now what it means when Shantay Legans tells us he "passed" his SAT. Er, at least we think we do. We know he scored at least 820, but maybe he scored 1010.

Actually, it's none of our business. His (and any student's) grades are private, and there are laws governing student privacy, and unless he actually tells us what his grades are, the most we can assume is that he's got somewhere between a 2.0 and 2.5 GPA, but maybe we can't even assume that, since he may have a GPA well in excess of 2.5. Hey, we've seen him play; this guy's really smart; gotta be Phi Beta Kappa material.

So, to Shantay, we say, props to you man. And congratulations to all of the other "Qualifiers" out there.

The Swish Award
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