This I Believe

Emily - Newton, Massachusetts
Entered on May 14, 2007

I believe standardized testing ruins lives. I’m not saying that I should be given any more pity than any other student who has stared at a dizzying answer sheet of empty circles with five minutes remaining in the test time or who has had to endure four hours of brutal torture sitting next to a kid who constantly checks out his boogers. My tango with the College Board has been somewhat unique, and has led me to a life of devout hate for all forms of testing.

My first escapade occurred this past fall. Due to my mother’s incompetence in familiarizing herself with the testing sign-up deadlines, I was forced to begin my testing experience at a school in another district. The school distributed the test on a Tuesday, which I thought was pretty awesome, because I got to miss a day of school. So I woke up Tuesday morning, a bit on the early side, ate a well-balanced breakfast, and headed out the door with my mother.

We were cruising along and I felt that I was ready to achieve merit scholarship status: I had my pencils all sharpened and I had even put new batteries in my calculator. As we were driving along, though, there seemed to be an obscene amount of traffic. So we turned on the radio traffic update, and, that’s right, laying before me in my path to the PSATs was a house fire causing a backup along the entire highway. I started to panic, and when I panic I need to pee. So I ended up being a good half an hour late to the test, which clearly ticked off the proctors. Well, the PSATs don’t matter all that much, so I decided the SATs would be a much smoother process. Wrong. I was so wrong.

Test day arrived, and I allotted myself a 12-hour sleep the night before, sharpened four new pencils, got my calculator, and was off. The weather was heinous and cars skidded all over the parking lot in a mushy pool of snow and mud. Maybe that should have been a foreshadowing for the disaster that was about to strike…But I got into the building and felt absolutely ready to ace this test. Wrong. I was so wrong.

I opened my test to begin, but my eyes started watering. I am highly allergic to bubble bath and the mere scent of bubble bath and various other toiletry scents sends me into fits of allergy attacks. Someone in that room, someone, was wearing one of those lethal products. My eyes swelled up like tomatoes and I was forced to take out my contacts. So there I am, trying to read the test without vision correction. Disastrous. I managed to finish the test in my half-blind state, but I assure you, the results were not pleasant.

I have been reduced to now expecting an incident every time I go take a test. Testing isn’t merely taking a test, it’s a battle filled with blood, tears, and sweat. Should a kid have to endure all this pain and drama just to receive a number which really doesn’t represent their true worth? I believe I’m more than just a 3 digit number on a paper.