Standardized Test This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The proctor reads the carefully written script in a monotone voice. The instructions seem endless, and as much as I dread the upcoming test, I am eager to begin before the information flies right out of my head like a cloud carried by a brisk autumn breeze. The proctor soon finishes, and my answer sheet is neatly filled in with ovals which will tell an anonymous computer my name and address. The proctor announces that the test will begin in thirty seconds, as soon as the second hand reaches the twelve.

Thirty heads turn toward the clock at the back of the room. Their faces are filled with a multitude of feelings: nervousness, anticipation, hope, concentration, and pleading. The second hand ticks on, oblivious to the silent pleas of the students. The students want the second hand to hurry up and reach the twelve so that they can begin - so that they can finish. The thirty seconds seem to last forever. The second hand finally reaches the twelve as the proctor carefully reads her scripted line: "The test will now begin."

I turn the page and face question #1 of Generic Standardized Test, the first of many that I will face during the next two years. The subject makes no difference - throughout the room students are faced with questions about math, history, Spanish, English, Hebrew, biology, and chemistry. Thirty students are filled with a sweeping dread as they ask themselves for the nth time: Will I be able to answer the questions?

I know the answer to the first question! This isn't so bad, I think to myself with elation, as I fill in the correct oval. Just as swiftly, my hopes are dashed as I read and try to comprehend the second question. It's not due to lack of study, although I really should have studied more. The problem is that I just don't know what they're asking - I've never heard these words before. I fruitlessly ask myself why I didn't read over the textbook as my teacher had suggested. Precious seconds slip by as I ponder the problem. Soon, I give up and move on, making a little mark to remind myself to come back later and see if I can make an educated (or uneducated) guess.

Throughout the test, there are some questions that I can answer and some that I can't. Thankfully, there were more of the first than the second. On quite a few, I eliminate two that I'm sure can't be right before blindly guessing from the remaining three. All who have taken standardized tests know the highly scientific methods used to do the blind guess: so far, I have two A's, B's, and E's, and three D's but only one C, therefore, the answer must be C. On this particular test, the testers mess with my mind by having four consecutive D answers. I waste time second-guessing those answers, sure that one or more must be wrong, but in the end, I leave the four D's as they stand.

The clock on the wall will just not slow down, as much as I plead with it. Faced with a huge, seemingly impossible chart near the end, I skip it and push onward. The pressure is killing me. I don't think that I will have time to finish. My sweaty palms make holding the pencil difficult. I can't figure out one of the answers, and so I go on a hunch pulled out from somewhere in the depths of my brain. I answer one question about pollution based on something I recall hearing on the news. At times like this, it's important to pull together all available resources.

I fill in the last little oval just as the proctor calls time. I want to fly off that chair and escape from that room to a place free from small rows of identical ovals and ticking second hands, but I have to wait. The proctor dutifully collects the test booklets from those not taking additional tests that day. Several minutes later, we are permitted to leave. We're free!

I feel strange. No more studying, no more worrying for the time being. I feel like I'm floating from the weight lifted off my shoulders, yet part of my mind is still back in that room, groaning over stupid things that I should have known. I quickly put the test out of my mind, determined never to think about it ever again ... or at least for six weeks, until I get my score back. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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