I am not more than a test score This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 15, 2009
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6:45 a.m. my alarm clock flashes as I am violently torn from my tranquil sleep. The defeat of grogginess becomes irrelevant as my stomach immediately retaliates with a feeling of nausea and distress. A feeling I know all too well. A feeling that has the unfortunate yet prevailing privilege to be associated with test day.

I slip into the classroom, punctual of course and begin to occupy and re-arrange my desk, like a conscientious student on the first day of school, but this was one particular conditioned response I could live without. It’s cold as the room reluctantly starts to fill up. Its strange how the room somewhat resembles a dungeon. I shiver and shake the thought, looking down as I try to avoid eye contact fearing my current score is perpetually displayed in my eyes. A burden of shame that I carry everywhere. A burden I can’t seem to shake no matter how many times I enter and re-enter the test room. It is a curse. It is my curse in which nobody close to me can relate. The prisoners grow quiet as the Proctor begins to hand out the test booklets. She has this sly and satisfying look illustrated upon her face. I think she can tell I’m no novice because I catch a quick glimpse of sorrow and sympathy for a brief second. She notices my realization and begins barking instructions. “You will have 45 minutes to complete this section, open your booklets and begin,” the emotionless robot demands. I’m trapped. I’m locked down. I’m hardly able to complete the first question before my heart anxiously begins to beat, parallel to each tick of the clock. My palms grow sweaty and I lose control of pencil and thoughts simultaneously. Tick tock. Tick tock. And times up. I look down and notice my answer document is full but can’t seem to remember answering any questions. I swallow my concern and prepare myself for the next section. Nothing new. Same routine.
A.C.T. Just three letters. Just three letters that have somehow developed the authority and ability to determine, mold, shape, and alter my future, without my permission. Last time I checked I was the one who held that responsibility, I was the one who got to screw up my future, but now it’s obvious I have no control. I’ve been trying and desperately failing at attempting to tame these three stubborn letters since the 9th grade. Feelings of relief and satisfaction grew foreign to me and completely left my realm of emotion with the first received test results. After the 6th time I was convinced there was either a.) Something horribly wrong with me or b.) The dimwitted fools at the test center had successfully managed to switch my test scores with some invalid six steady times in a row.
That was it, I was sure. There was no other reasonable explanation as to why I proved to be inadequate. Ok, so I didn’t really think that, but wouldn’t it have been easier if that were the case? Day after day I sit here letting my shameful score slowly and painfully absorb into my skin leaving its unworthy marks for the whole world to see. It doesn’t seem remotely fair that a simple test carries so much weight in determining some of the most important decision that will ever be made. It’s like they’re saying here you go good luck, don’t fail because oh yea you won’t really get into college. Nice try, thanks for playing. It shouldn’t be that hard right? I mean its one little test, no big deal, and I honestly can not figure out why it is for me. It’s like some big mystery and I’m the only one who’s not allowed to solve it. I get good grades, study hard, have a good GPA, and it still doesn’t matter.
I feel like I’m breathing for nothing. I’m putting all this energy and sacrificing all of my time to build a future that’s not even going to matter. It’s like all of my life I’ve been lied to. Working hard equates rewards. If you work hard no one has the power to take anything away from you. You won’t have anything to worry about if you have a strong work ethic. And on, but nope. Not here. Why is it that people who are intellectually gifted are handed “free lunches” while hard work becomes obsolete and pointless unless you have a magnificence test score attached? There should be a disclaimer that states do not try unless you qualify, which in my case means don’t try at all. That is simply not fair. People who take the test and receive a good score based on pure “luck” or reliable test taking skills get provided with sort of a cheat sheet to life, while I, who’s been studying for what seems like eternity ends up answerless, frustrated to tears, and ultimately jaded beyond compare. Obviously they were wrong.
I try desperately to hold back the anxious urges to scream at the top of my lungs. “That’s not right. That’s not me. I’m much more than those completely bogus test scores!” And it’s true, as cliché as that statement may sound, I am much more than those test scores. I know it sounds like an excuse, a cop-out or some lazy attempt at protecting my stupidity, but it’s not. I’m certain if I had a knock-out ACT score my life would be complete and free of the majority of worrying tied to this fear. I would be free. Forever cured and able to feel the ultimate feelings of contentment and satisfaction. I often dream about these feelings, I can taste their sweetness and feel their peaceful rewards. It’s an unfamiliar one. All of my worries and fulfilled fears have dissipated and what was blurry and frustratingly unattainable before now was crystal clear and easily within reach. I think to myself wow this is too good to be true. Then my alarm clock blares, the grogginess subsides revealing the nausea and nervousness, like a cold and harsh slap of reality in the face.

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