Finnish students almost never take a standardized test. They take tests written by their teachers.

There is one test, however, that students take at the end of high school. It is the same for all students but the quality of the questions is far more complex and interesting than the questions found on the SAT or the ACT.

Here Pasi Sahlberg explains the kinds of questions that Finnish students are expected to answer.

The structure of the exams sounds amazingly like the old essay-style “College Board examinations” that were offered from 1901-1941, when they were replaced by the SAT for the sake of efficiency and speed (the decision to make the switch was made on Pearl Harbor Day). The Finnish exams are written and scored by teachers and scholars, not computers.

There are no bias and sensitivity guidelines to screen out controversial topics. Indeed, the tests include controversial topics.

Here is a typical question:

“Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels predicted that a socialist revolution would first happen in countries like Great Britain. What made Marx and Engels claim that and why did a socialist revolution happen in Russia?”

Students don’t pick a box. It is not a multiple-choice question. Students have to know what they are writing about. No guessing. No SAT, no ACT, no Pearson. .