Daily Archives: March 7, 2008

Clare and the SAT

My high school junior has been preparing for the SAT for the past few months. I never took the SAT. I took the ACT and didn’t do very well, but because I wasn’t going to a prestigious college, it really didn’t matter. Now a-days it does matter, and because we live on the East coast and Clare will probably be looking at schools that require the SAT she was encouraged to prepare for the test. Many students take SAT prep courses — it is even offered as an elective at the high schools. We didn’t realize this last year, so Clare didn’t take the course offered at Whitman. Instead she was enrolled in a SAT course offered by Kaplan – the company that manages the test. Personally I think it is nuts — that we spend so much time and money on these courses, but it is like steroids in sports. The only way to compete in some sports sometimes seems to take the steroids. The only way to compete for some colleges seems to be to take the SAT prep courses. It’s not right, but it’s the norm — at least in Bethesda.

We thought she’d done ok on the PSAT and were not concerned about her score on the SAT — even she said that although she does have test anxiety, she was not worried about taking the SAT. At some point during the Kaplan course she realized that her PSAT score was not as good as it could have been and the first few times she took practice SAT tests during the course did worse than on the PSAT. This added to the stress she’d already been feeling regarding school this year. Even before the course ended, Clare asked me to sign her up for the SAT test in May (and maybe the June one too).

When she did much better on her final practice test she felt a little more confident going into the real SAT on March 1. Dean drove her to the test center (her high school) and picked her up afterwards. I was at a wrestling tournament with Andrew, so at about 1:00 pm, when I knew the SAT was finished, sent Clare a text message asking how it went.

Here is her response:

Not very good. I filled out a wrong section early on and I was able to fix it but the knowledge of the error distracted me. I answered the questions, but the answers seemed too straightforward in some cases and the choices were unsettlingly similar for lots of questions. The essay was fun, but i probably just jinxed it now. And I feel no relief. No weight has been lifted as they say. But then — I didn’t expect to do well.

In a time when most teenagers (and some adults) write text messages that are missing punctuation, capitalization and letters, I was impressed with this text message from my daughter. She may have messed up on her (first) SAT, but she writes beautiful text messages.