SAT – Sorrow + Anxiety Time!

November 19, 2007
By Ani Khashadoorian, Glendale, CA

The dark crypt that was somehow reminiscent of a door slowly opened up its gates. I knew there was a strong glowing light outside, but I retreated from stepping out, as if I were channeling my inner Dracula. My pulse was beating heavily, and I felt like I was going to throw up and cry tears of joy simultaneously. As I pushed open the heavy door, the ray of light suddenly attacked me, and gagged me with sudden difficult and complex emotions. First, it began with a stranglehold of dread and anxiety that was mixing with anticipation, like a perfect storm looming on my sanity. I was not prepared for the effects of the light to be so abrupt, and I paid dearly. Suddenly, the thunder hit, and the violent cold waves of anger ravaged the sides of my mind endlessly until warm gentle pats arose and mixed the current around, causing the current to spin in dizzying circles heading out of control. Sensations of happiness and sorrow made my head loll incessantly until I finally felt as if my brain were going to crumble. Surprisingly, as quickly and cruelly as it began, it slowly and gently ended. The storm was no more, and I could brave a few more steps into the unknown mainland that turned out to be my high school’s parking lot. Without notice, my body ceased to function; I couldn’t control my movements. I suddenly fell to the ground, kissing my hands and totally giving my whole self up to the mercy of the asphalt. No, I did not suddenly fall in love with that Viggo Mortensen look-alike in my English class, nor did I burn to death from my supposed “vampirism”. I had just finished taking the PSAT.

Contrary to popular belief, the incredible amount of pressure faced by a high school student to get into a prestigious college starts earlier than senior year, and often causes way more stress than they already need. Sports, music, community service, etc… students participate and base their entire day around these activities, and devote most of their time and energy to it. Beginning my freshmen year, we were told to try our hardest and keep up our grades. By the time September rolled around this year, I found myself in a frantic push to take every single available test- thus ending up with the PSAT (not to mention my AP and Honors classes). I slowly found myself obsessing over it, dreading it, and even trying to admire it. I was wrong; it was an ostensibly difficult test according to most of the people I knew who took it. I can’t stress how wrong they were- at times, I felt like shooting myself when I encountered a difficult math problem – other instances, I thought someone had made a grave error when they wrote the easier questions. My final result doesn’t come in until later next month, but I’m not anticipating it at all, even though I know next year is the year that counts. Come senior year, I don’t want to know if I get admttied into the college of my choice or not- I just want to be able to function normally before, after, and during the looming SAT.

The want for a high test score is getting pretty ridiculous. Ranging from seminars or classes that can run up thousands of dollars in bills to private tutors running up hundreds or more an hour, those with dispensable income will be able to get their edge to the test
. I personally don’t know many people who could manage to pay thousands of dollars in order to crack the SAT, or afford a tutor than can go from inane amounts of money per hour. When did a long test determine who we are, what we know, and how we think? Everyone has different ways of thinking, understanding, and evaluating a situation. Does my comprehension really need to affect my ability to peacefully sleep at night, or should I be up all night worrying about the proper grammaticism of this sentence?

Those with dispensable income will be able to get their edge to the test
Although the strive for success is understandable, I somehow feel like a few of us are getting robbed of the last remaining years of youth. Instead of running around the beach and realizing how well we have it, we’re slumped over our desks, going over the ways to dissect and analyze a critical thinking question related to Shakespeare. Don’t even mention the fact that the SATs pretty much make it or break it for college applications- what happens to the student who just doesn’t take tests well, even though they prove themselves through other ways? What happens to the kid who ranked in the top 10% of his class who gets wait listed at his dream school? What about the student who does enough to graduate but gets lazy and runs into a corner when confronted with huge tests that determine where they go?

All options are laid out for us. Although we might not all get into our dream schools, although we may not have a 4.7 GPA, and although we might not be Mother Theresa,
I hope the places we want to go see besides a test score…after all, a score is just a sum of a bunch of questions on paper. The sum of who we are is much more than that.

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