We all remember our SAT scores, and so, no doubt, does Nicholas Lemann. Mr. Lemann, a scion of lawyers who scored well enough to get into Harvard, was obsessed enough with the exam to write “The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy.”

You can read “The Big Test” cover to cover without finding Mr. Lemann’s scores. But you can find some inspired, collective navel-gazing. Buried in the history of testing is an incisive sociology of the high-testing class. It should be required reading for every fancy lawyer who is unsure how he or she became one.