A Survival Guide to Standardized Testing

After countless crying sessions, frustrated screams, and a hopeless slump where I felt useless, empty, and void of all optimism, I’ve decided I was tired. I was tired of constantly beating myself up every time I got a question wrong. I was tired of imagining all the colleges I won’t get into. I was tired of falling victim to the ruthless system of standardized testing taking away my moments of teenage “hoorah”.

Tomorrow will be the last time I will be taking the SATs forever. I’ve grown to despise the thousand page books that weigh heavy on my bones. In the process of wanting to be successful and chasing after the Ivy Leagues, I’ve grown to despise myself. In each question I could not quickly pick up, I’ve kicked myself in the metaphorical ass (since my legs don’t reach that far) and blamed whatever higher entity was out there and myself for not being smarter. The ACTs and SATs will cause you to question yourself, your dignity, your intelligence, your work ethic, and most importantly, what you deserve. You will feel like you deserve nothing. You will feel like there is nothing out there for you, because it just seems like what you are capable of doing is just not enough.  The SATs and ACTs are a vital part of many teenagers’ futures but it should not wreck the present. Too often, we delve too deep into the ocean of preparation for the future, testing, college searching, and ways to polish ourselves up to look good for colleges, and we lose ourselves. We find it hard to resurface and be who we were before all of this college crap. These tests are important, of course, but they do not determine who you are as a person. How creative. How empathetic. How flexible. How humorous. How incredibly magnificent your existence is.

These standardized tests will determine a portion of your future but whatever that result may be is not and will never be permanent. The future is always susceptible to change. You are its creator and there are no rules. So breathe, the moment where you are sitting and filling in bubbles with a freshly sharpened pencil will not set your future in stone. Do your best and let the rest fall in place. If your score isn’t what you wanted it to be, try harder next time. Don’t forget that there is always a next time, not just for this, but for everything.

Here are some tips for everyone preparing for the SATs/ACTs:
Set a weekly schedule with how many hours you plan to study and what sections you want to finish that day.

  • Focus on your weaknesses. While it feels good to reassure yourself of your strengths, it’s more important to recognize where you may fall short and to fix any errors that you can fix.
  • Look up YouTube tutorials of explanations to these problems. A lot of the book explanations are big long mumbo jumbos that don’t register completely.
  • For those who can’t afford the books, there are websites and free apps where you can study! The main one for the SATs is https://www.khanacademy.org/sat . Here is one for the ACTs: https://www.powerscore.com/sat/help/content_practice_tests.cfm. There are a lot online! Just search them up.
  • Make a list of things that will motivate you. Why do you want to good at these tests? Write them down and look at them when you’re feeling apathetic & just uninspired.
  • Take these tests seriously but don’t let them ruin you. You are still as great as you are after these tests. Numbers don’t and will never define you, you are beyond them.
  • If you are taking the test tomorrow or soon, make sure to get lots of sleep the night before. You’ll be in the testing area for a long, long, looooong time, so you have to be [Drake voice] CHARGED UP!
  • Also, bring snacks and water on test day to have fuel for the brain. 

Good luck and stay kick-ass!