Mr. Glavin: "Metamorphosis". Is it "A" - transformation, "B" - integration, "C" - resurrection, or "D" - none of the above?
Narrator/Adult: Eleventh-grade. The year of decisions.
Mr. Glavin: Anyone? Yes.
Randy: "B"?..."C" - "D"?!
Mr. Glavin: "A"!
Narrator/Adult: Around the middle of junior year...the risks increase.
Jeff: I knew that.
Narrator/Adult: Almost overnight, the choices get harder. One guess why.
Mr. Glavin: English comprehension. I suggest you learn this, class. It's bound to show up on you SAT's.
Narrator/Adult: The scholastic aptitude test. The living nightmare of American adolescents.
Mr. Glavin: Alright, next word. "Pyrotechnic."... Mr. Pfeiffer. Would you like to take a crack at this one?
Narrator/Adult: Like some kind of biblical curse...the SATs had descended on our class...reducing even the most-intelligent among us to a state of...flop-sweats.
Mr. Glavin: "D"!
Jeff: I knew that.
Kevin: Yeah, right.
Jeff: I did.
Mr. Glavin: In that case, Mr. Billings..."Hirsute." Can you fill us in?
Jeff: Hirsute? Uh...
Narrator/Adult: It was grim. After sixteen years of hard learning...our educational futures had suddenly been pinned down to four choices...
(in lunchroom line)
Lunchlady: Pudding, or Jell-O?
Kevin: Ah, we'll go with the pudding.
Jeff: Hirsute! [Gestures.] Who-who in the world knows what hirsute means?
Jeff: Oh, great.
Narrator/Adult: The truth was, potential failure loomed at every turn.
Chuck: I haven't slept in two nights! I don't know what it is - I just keep tossing and turning.
Paul: I just wish it was over, ya know?
Chuck: I wish I were dead.
Narrator/Adult: It was clear each of us was dealing with this in our own way. For me...
Kevin: Come on - what are you both so worried about?
Narrator/Adult: ...it was denial.
Kevin: I mean, it's just a stupid aptitude test, right?
Chuck: Maybe he's right.
Kevin: Course I'm right.
Paul: Are you nuts? This test could determine our entire future.
Kevin: What's that supposed to mean?
Paul: Well, it means...you have to score fourteen-hundred this year, to even be considered by the Ivy Leagues. And what college you go to...Determines what grad school you go to...Which determines what kind of job you get...And what contacts you're gonna make...and-and who your friends are gonna be...And what type of house you're gonna live in...and what the rest of your life could be like.
Jeff: Are you sure you didn't leave anything else out, Paul?
Paul: Yeah, you got some pudding on your pants.
Narrator/Adult: Seemed like the stress was getting to us all...My dad included.
Jack: "Competent"? What the hell does "competent" mean?
Norma: Probably means you did a good job, Jack.
Narrator/Adult: For my father, the crisis was his annual evaluation from NORCOM.
Jack: You know how many weekends I put in there? You know how hard I worked?! I don't believe this!
Narrator/Adult: Which isn't to say the old man wasn't graceful at taking constructive criticism.
Norma: Now, look, hon-ey! There's "excellent" right here!
Jack: Yeah. For "demeanor and appearance". Means the guy liked my haircut.
Norma: Honey, they probably didn't even give it much thought - you know how much the appreciate you there!
Jack: The hell they do.
Narrator/Adult: Still, in my own way, I kinda...sympathized with the guy.
Narrator/Adult: After all, this was really none of my business. This was Dad, the great provider - the man with the plan.
Jack: Charlie Barratt got a...bad evaluation, too.
Norma: Jack, you did not get a bad evaluation!
Jack: Yeah, well...He decided to leave NORCOM.
Norma: Charlie? You're kidding?
Jack: Nope. He knows this guy who owns a small, uh, furniture factory - he wants to retire...He's gonna buy him out. I don't know...maybe he's got the right idea.
Mr. Glavin: Come on - concentrate! Anyone? Mr. Coleman...
Mr. Glavin: Harassment is to intimidation as compliment is to...
Narrator/Adult: Panic had officially descended upon my class.
Chuck: I have to go to the bathroom.
Narrator/Adult: But no matter where we ran for comfort...
Mr. Glavin: Anybody else?
Narrator/Adult: ...there was no escape. It was getting harder and harder to deny what was going on.
Mr. Glavin: Mr. Arnold. How about you?
Narrator/Adult: At times like this, there was only one thing to do.
Narrator/Adult: Take a risk.
Mr. Glavin: Ah...very good! Would you like to tell the class how you arrived at this answer?
Kevin: Phhh...I guessed.
Mr. Glavin: Well, you were wrong.
Jeff Billings: I knew that.
Narrator/Adult: The day before the test was torture.
Chuck: Oh man. This is gonna be a disaster.
Narrator/Adult: Panic had given way to...raw superstition.
Jeff: You know, I heard that there's a pattern - if you break the code, you can figure out the answers.
Randy: Yeah. I heard they have this card they put over the answers, so if you fill in all the circles you get a perfect score.
Chuck: No, I heard...That if you use the serial number from **** and divide it by your birthday.
Narrator/Adult: It was crazy - the last minute ravings of desperate men.
Randy: That's ridiculous - how're they gonna know your birthday?
Chuck: Hey...they know everything! And then you take the question number and you add it, and you multiply the whole thing -
Paul: I can't believe you guys are wasting your time on these stupid rumors! I mean, don't you have something better to do? You should be studying.
Narrator/Adult: Enough was enough. It was time to put some sense to this whole fiasco.
Kevin: Who says we have to take this stupid test, anyway? Why should we let this one test affect our entire life? Why should one test make us this crazy? I say we're more important than that stupid test, and I for one, am not gonna let it control my life!
Narrator/Adult: There. Finally, A statement of principle. A manifesto of defiance. A cry for unity no red-blooded kid could fail to admire.
Jeff: Nice try, buddy.
Narrator/Adult: And I guess that's when it hit me. What I'd been denying all week. About choices, about risks, and that test. I wasn't angry. I was just plain scared.
Teacher: ...sealed test booklet.
Narrator/Adult: And the next morning, at 8:00 AM, seventy-eight students gathered in the McKinley cafeteria to take what was supposed to be the most important test of their lives.
Teacher: Do not break the seal until I tell you to do so.
Narrator/Adult: Everyone had a different way of coping that day.
Teacher: You'll have three hours to work on the test...
Narrator/Adult: Some were more effective than others.
Teacher: There are five sections...The time allotted for each section will be announced, before you begin.
Narrator/Adult: But for all the risks and choices, I was one step ahead of them.
Teacher: When you have finished a section...Do not - I repeat - do not turn ahead...You may now...open your pamphlets...
Narrator/Adult: After all, I knew that this was just one test in thousands I'd be taking in my life. None of them final, none of them irrevocable. And the way I saw it, maybe life was a risk. But this time, I was ready.