SPAT, Revisited

As I am playing the Tracy family for their upcoming update, I realized that Marianne Richward is 16. Sixteen?! I can’t believe she’s that old, a junior in high school and almost to university. Since she is my oldest playable teen, she is officially the first playable to attend a RMA (Rockport Metropolitan area) school. All current students are PNPCs and an out-of-area student from Apple Valley.

As I was reviewing her stats to make sure that she would have the necessary requirements for entry, I realized that my current guidelines were incredibly basic. I don’t have a scale to measure to, especially since Meade College is an Academie Society school (my equivalent to the U.S.’s Ivy League) and would have stronger requirements than the University of Rockport (URock). So I have decided to rework how the college entrance score, the Scholastic Performance Assessment Test, or the SPAT, much like Starr did for Apple Valley.

The SPAT was originally calculated from three sections (credit to Apple Valley):

  • CSE (Core Skill set): total amount of skill points, specified for the program the Sim is applying for. For example, if a Sim wanted to study Biology, they should have at least three points in the logic, mechanical and cleaning skills.
  • CIE (Core Interest set): total amount of interest points, specified for the program the Sim is applying for. I consider any interest with 8, 9, or 10 points as “core”. Using the example of the prospective biology student, they should have a core interest in Health along with Environment.
  • CHE (Core Hobby set): total amount of hobby points, specified for the program the Sim is applying for. The prospective biology student should have hobby points in the Science or Fitness hobby, ideally at least 5.

I proposed a minimum SPAT score of 15 for admission to URock, 25 for Meade. I didn’t even check to see what would be the perfect score. If I did, then it would have been 50. Not too bad.

That leads me to almost six years later. This simple formula does work generally. But what about Sims who haven’t decided on which major to take? As in real life, there are plenty of students that are undecided when they attend university. In my game, I just let them be undecided until they roll a want for a major. But there has been a time where they never rolled a want, and they ended up as a philosophy major as a result.

But when it comes to admissions, the skills that are counted are for specific majors and that ends up hurting the undecided students. So I decided to use a weighted formula stolen from similar to Starr’s:

  • 50% CSE: half of total skill points earned, not just specific skills. However, if a student wants to enter a competitive academic program, then they will need to have at least three skills in each of three core skills.
  • 50% CIE: half of total interest points earned in three core interests per the applicable program. For example, the prospective biology student should have interest points in health, work and environment. For undecided students, the core interests considered will be school, work and weather.
  • 100% CHE: total amount of hobby points earned in one hobby specified for the program for the Sim is applying for. The prospective biology student should have hobby points in the Science or Fitness hobby. (I decided not to use OTH, because I don’t use OTH by Maxis standards. I will change a Sim’s OTH based on their personality and aspiration, much like Carla with Sullivan. So if a cooking-savant sim is applying to Vanguard for the culinary arts program, and their Maxis-programmed OTH is tinkering, I would have already changed their OTH to cuisine in their youth. Thus, they would have already had the points necessary for their entrance score.) Certain programs may not have a core hobby specified, like business majors.
  • +1 point for every maxed out skill, up to +7 points earned
  • +1 point for private school student status, which I consider as an honor student in my game
  • +1 point for obtaining the overachiever memory, which I consider as a letter of recommendation (which is usually not required, but highly recommended when apply to Meade or a specific scholarship program).
  • +1 point for every maxed out interest, up to +6 points earned

With using this new weighted formula, students are more rewarded for having higher skills in general. They can also gain bonus points for having the interests and hobby complimentary to a specific program, especially to make up for lower skills. This will ensure a well-rounded student for admission to most programs.

The perfect score for the new SPAT is now 75:

35 + 15 + 10 + 7 + 1 + 1 + 6 = 75

Let’s take a look at the prospective biology student; we’ll call her Betty. Betty has the bare minimum score of 20 SPAT, according to the original college preparatory SPAT guidelines: 14 CSE (3 points each in mechanical, logic and cleaning skills, plus 6 points in other skills), a minimum of 8 points each in Health and Environment interests, and 2 points in the Fitness hobby.

Based on her current skills, she hasn’t maxed out any skill. So based on the information above, she now has a new SPAT score of 17, 7 (50% of 14 skill points) + 8 (50% of 16 interest points) + 2 hobby points.

But Betty isn’t one-dimensional. She also has a minimum of 8 points in the Work interest. She wants to be a nurse, so she has a part-time job as an EMT (top of the teen Medical career) all while maintaining an A average. Along with her letter of recommendation (overachiever memory), she’s also an honors student (private school) and she also has maxed out School, Food, and Culture interests. If we include all of this, then her new score will be 25, 7 (50% of 14 skill points) + 12 (50% of 24 interest points) + 2 hobby points + 0 + 1 + 1 + 3 (three maxed out interests).

I originally set the minimum SPAT score for URock at 15 and Meade at 25, when the college track SPAT is 20. That’s what I get for not calculating the scale. I want to make college competitive, as not everyone can go there, just like in real life. I already account for this with having harder grades and slower skill gaining mods in my game.

Thus, I am going to set the minimum SPAT score as 25, regardless of the campus. However, as an Academie Society school, Meade is highly-competitive, so it is recommended that prospective students have a score of at least 35.

This would technically mean Betty can apply to URock. She’s at the bare minimum, so she will need to increase her CSE and CHE in order to assure her admission into the nursing program at URock. Unfortunately, someone with only 14 skill points would not be admitted into Meade, as it’s highly competitive. So Meade is out of the question.

Now to the apply the new guidelines to current residents! Let’s check Marianne’s chances if she was going to apply now. For further comparison, I am going to check her brainy cousin Sarai Richward and their townie friend Denise Weber as well.

Marianne Richward still wants to be a famous athlete, but she is going to take her former principal’s advice on having a backup degree, she’s decided to major in broadcast journalism. She can always be a sportscaster upon retirement, right?

Program Details:
Major: Broadcast Journalism (Maxis: Drama)

  • Core skills (per the custom career): charisma, creativity, logic
  • Core interests: travel, work, sports or crime
  • Core hobby: sports or film & literature

Marianne’s stats:

  • CSE 21 (0 Co, 1 Me, 2 Ch, 7 Bo, 9 Lo, 1 Cr, 1 Cl)
  • CIE 28 (9 travel, 9 work, 10 sports)
  • CHE 3 (OTH Sports)
  • Current SPAT: 28 (11 + 14 + 3 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0)

Well, it looks like Marianne has successfully recovered from being on academic probation. Her A average and her current SPAT score will gain her entry into URock. She technically needs 1 more charisma point, and 2 creativity points to gain entry into the broadcast journalism program. But it’s not a competitive major so it’s not necessary. But getting those skill and hobby points will help getting the score she needs. She’s about to start her junior year, so she has enough time to catch up, especially since her OTH is sports. Just one step closer to an athletic career…

Her cousin Sarai Richward is a brain, so it’s no surprise that she wants to be pre-medicine. It’s also no surprise that she’s also a candidate for FENSA membership, so her SPAT should be super high.

Program Details:
Major: Biology

  • Core skills: mechanical, logic, cleaning
  • Core interests: health, environment, work or animals
  • Core hobby: science or fitness

Sarai’s stats:

  • CSE 69 (10 Co, 10 Me, 9 Ch, 10 Bo, 10 Lo, 10 Cr, 10 Cl)
  • CIE 27 (9 health, 9 work, 9 environment)
  • CHE 9 (OTH science)
  • Current SPAT 66 (35 + 14 + 9 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 0)

Sarai has a near perfect score! Since her family is in the lowest income tier and since she’s only one skill point from gaining entry into FENSA, she will be able to get win the Students of Excellence Award, which awards enough for a full ride to university, plus a $20,000 award for her membership into FENSA. Plus, if she maintains her stellar grades in undergrad, she will be able to earn the Excellence award for medical school! As long as her parents don’t drastically increase their net worth, Sarai will be set!

Denise Weber is a townie from the adoptive pool. With her aging out of the Weber House (off-screen orphanage), she is looking to attend business school, specifically at Meade, as having an Academie degree will open doors for her pretty much anywhere. Since business programs are competitive, she will need to earn a SPAT score of at least 35 to have a chance of getting in.

Program Details:
Major: Business Management (Maxis: Economics)

  • Core skills: charisma, logic, creativity
  • Core interests: travel, work, money
  • Core hobby: any

Denise’s stats:

  • CSE 11 (3 Co, 0 Me, 2 Ch, 1 Bo, 3 Lo, 1 Cr, 1 Cl)
  • CIE 7 (7 work)
  • CHE 4 (Arts & Crafts)
  • Current SPAT: 15 (6 + 4 + 4 + 0 + 1 + 0 + 0)

Uh oh, it’s not looking good for Denise at all. Since she’s a townie in the adoption pool, I don’t have the capability to earn interest points for her. I had SimBlender randomize her skills, but I suppose I can use SimBlender to gain skills assuming she has the want for it. But she needs to work on her charisma and creativity skills for entry into the business program. She actually had zero points in money and travel and unless I make her playable I cannot use the magazines to build her interest points. Her Maxis OTH is sports but her highest hobby level is in Arts at 4.

Since her GPA is an A+ and likely to be in private school if she was playable, I gave her a point for honors. Since she cannot get any more interest points, she’ll need at least 40 more skill points to get a 45 SPAT score to enter Meade. Not possible, unless I cheat like crazy. In fact, she cannot even graduate from high school! (see below for info on high school requirements)

I’ll need to put her in a career, so she’ll roll wants for skills; she’s a money Sim after all and she needs the letter of recommendation point. She’ll also need to continue building hobby skills in art, since she cannot build any interest skills. In all honesty, she’ll need to consider a different program altogether, or even consider URock. She has high interest points in Fashion and Culture, so she can look into Fashion Design, Interior Design or Visual Arts at Vanguard. She has a lot of deciding to do. But let’s get to raising those skill points, shall we Denise?

If Denise could score so low and she’s an honor student, I am concerned that there will be other students that will be behind as well. With the new SPAT, I have to revise high school graduation requirements as well.

High school graduation requirements

Before, the minimum SPAT to graduate high school was 12 (10 skill points, 1 core interest point, 1 core hobby point), and the recommended score was 16 (12-2-2). If I applied the new formula, that would make the scores 7 and 9, respectively, much too low.

In order to graduate, students now are required to have at least 15 skills, which is roughly an average of 2 points per skill. Unless a student is planning to attend college, CIE and CHE are not required. College-bound students are required to take SPATs, thus CIE and CHE are assessed. Students are recommended to have at least a 15 CIE and 5 CHE, thus the minimum score for graduation for college-bound students is 21 (8 + 8 + 5). Even though a 21 SPAT appears too low for entry, students will likely have more than 15 interest points (if they are planning to major in a program that aligns with their interests, that’s up to 30 points!) and even up to 10 points in a hobby, so they can easily have a SPAT over 30!

Summary

  • 15 CSE                   High school graduation
  • 21 SPAT                High school graduation, college-bound
  • 25 SPAT                Minimum requirements for admission to URock or Meade
  • 35 SPAT                Suggested requirements for admission to Meade

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think! I want to make sure that I am not overlooking anything.

6 thoughts on “SPAT, Revisited

  1. Very interesting! You and Starr were my inspiration for creating the SAS for my hood, so I’ll always be curious to see any changes you make.

    I’ve only got one university (and probably only ever will have one!) but it makes sense to me to switch up the SPAT entrance requirements for different unis, as well as for different majors. That’s the way it works here too – getting into Medicine at Sydney is a lot harder than getting into Education at Western Sydney.

    1. I cannot remember why I wanted two unis in the LC. I was fine with the way I calculated the SPAT but when I saw Starr adjust hers, I made a note to myself to check if I should revise mine.

      When I went to evaluate Marianne, I did Denise’s too and saw how few skills she had, even though she was a A+ student. So I decided to try Starr’s formula and I tweaked it from there.

      I haven’t gone as far as to determine what would be a competitive program though. I figure business would definitely be one, as business majors typically are in the States. Getting into Meade is competitive regardless, as is Vanguard.

      Denise is an orphan aging out and is a money sim, so I figured she would want to study business so she could have a good career, pull herself out of poverty. But after reviewing her stats, I realized that she is not equipped for business career at all. For a money sim, she has ZERO points in money and travel interest, and I think she was mediocre in the Work interest. Her OTH is sports but she has a handful of art hobby points, gained at school I guess. I suppose now I need to direct her to a more creative field. I was planning on having her as a PNPC, not just a townie, because I wanted more students at Meade, and because I love her dark skin and would like it in the gene pool 😀

  2. Very interesting. It was because of your two universities that I started my second university in my hood. Checking the scores to see if they fit is always the hard part. I tend to check all teens and what I know they would be like-since the way I play I often have to cheat their skills/grades because I might play their house on the weekend and only every two simyears then they would never do any skilling or get homework When I checked my entrance requirements for the UAV, I used Jennifer and Jessica Kent, Amyra and Chase Dawson since they were vastly different in how I saw them academically.
    I like your Students of Excellence Award, I don’t think I saw you mention it before now even though I knew about the FENSA award.

    1. The excellence award is mentioned on the financial aid page, and I created it with Sarai in mind. The Underwoods are my only household with kids in tier 1; up until recently they were house poor. They had a high mortgage and too small of a house to upgrade. Now that their mortgage is paid off, they can finally gain some savings but I’m hoping not too much or else they won’t be eligible for the scholarship. It is literally a full ride: it pays for tuition, room and board and other stuff like a laptop: https://laurelcrossing.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/paying-for-college/

      I am really hoping that they get it. That way, the FENSA award will be able to cover most of medical school too, and they that’ll be one less college education they’ll have to worry about. Courtney and Tina will most likely be knowledge Sims too, but it’s unlikely they’ll be FENSA members like their big sis, who gained most of her skills before adding the slower skilling mod.

  3. Very interesting! I like that you have two universities, especially with one being an elite one. And true on the few skill points but high grades, I’ve had that a few times, and always have that with my pnpc’s because they are often neglected.

    1. To keep my sanity, I think I’ll only check SPAT scores for those I’ll age to dormies or PNPC status. Good thing I checked on Denise, I had her pegged for attending business school at Meade, but checking her simology I discovered she is not fit for that career at all. She’s actually more creative.

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