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Re the Regents' difficulty level:  As you said, reactions really
depend on where one is coming from.  At my specialized high school,
we were always glad to take a Regents because it was easier than
our school's final exams.  For students in an inner-city high
school, they would be difficult.

The format in my time was usually a multiple-choice cumulative
final, testing subject knowledge.  It was all factual and, as
one of the posts said, we got the previous exams to practice on
so we knew exactly what to expect.  I used to feel that there
was a precise way you had to take the questions--not read too
much or too little into them--and if you got a "feel" for that
you could do well.

In New York City, I suspect that most students who don't pass
the Regents have not taken the courses, as opposed to taking the
exams and failing them.  E.g. an academic diploma requires 3
years of high school math and a general diploma requires 1 or 2.
General students take only the minimum required courses.  That is
why they jack up the remedial load at a place like CUNY--if they
haven't taken intermediate algebra, they simply have to take it
at CUNY for no credit.

Because the Regents are subject tests, they have no meaningful
correspondence to the SAT (except in so far as bright students
who test well will do well on all types of tests).

Another question was about the Regents College Test.  Years ago
there was a Regents Scholarship Test.  I don't recall the content
except that it was grueling (I think it took two full days).
They were used for awarding merit scholarships, the precise
amount of which was then aligned with your tuition.  That was
abolished a number of years ago and was replaced by the Tuition
Assistance Program which is based solely on financial need.  I
assume the reason was that with the advent of open admissions and
the imposition of tuition at CUNY (which used to be free), poor
and underprepared students became the primary population at CUNY
and perhaps at other colleges as well.

Again, apologies to the upstate people for my painting such a
provincially New York City picture!  I've been accused of being
too provincial more than once before, but it's all I know--which
means, I guess, that the label fits.

Annette Gourgey