But the 2005 exams aren’t your father’s CATs. Although the tests still include the standard questions regarding service charge calculations for Duran Duran, as well as ticket buying strategies for The Moody Blues and Gov’t Mule, this year’s round of tests are especially designed to determine which bands and artists today’s teenagers will follow in the years to come, not only in college, but through most of their adult lives.

“We felt that past exams weren’t adequately preparing today’s teenagers for the concerts of tomorrow,” explains Dr. Peter “Pete” Dixon, head of the Department of Education’s Concert Development Department (commonly referred to as Department 222) and chief architect of President Bush’s No Eagles Fan Left Behind Act, the controversial government program designed to assure that today’s high school graduates will have a well-rounded concert education. “Sure, we still include the standard testing questions about how many times one should yell out ‘Freebird’ at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, or how many costume changes one should expect at a Cher show, but the new CATs focus more on concert industry logic so that we may better determine a student’s concert aptitude in relation to their live music needs.”

Ah, yes. Logic. That’s the driving force behind today’s CATs, where a sample question often asks students to derive an answer based on previously supposed facts. For example, a common question found on the new CATs lists a set of four headline acts – Elvis Costello, Celine Dion, Yanni and Neil Diamond, and asks that the student complete the set by listing which act should logically follow the previous four. Of course, for most adults, the answer is obvious – Motley Crue – but for today’s teens the question calls for them to draw from their total educational experience, not just from what they’ve learned in high school, but also from grades one through eight.

“It’s no secret that the entire CAT process needed updating,” says Dr. Dixon, who blames various concert problems in recent years, from the Milli Vanilli scandals of the late 1980s to the Ashlee Simpson Lip Syncing riots of 2004, on inadequate test questions as well as a general failure to recognize musical trends in high school and elementary school students. “We spent way too much time asking students who the fifth Beatle was, or how many people sneaked into Woodstock without paying, thereby completely screwing up the Disco Era as well as the 80s Glam movement. As President Bush said during the campaign, ‘Never again. Not on my watch.'”

Will the new CATs make for a better concert future? Or will test questions like “Name the number of rock stars that have either married or dated Pamela Anderson,” go the way of the New Math, the Old English, or the Not So Old But Not Really New, New Geography? Although it may be too early to tell, one thing is for certain. The new Concert Aptitude Tests will redefine the shape of the concert scene, not only this year, but in the years to come.

Coming up later this week. Will President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security affect ticket sales for Sting in 2010? Stay tuned.