Testing: A Leap of Faith

Sometimes there’s more to something than meets the eye…


Katie Pierce, Editor-in-Chief

A lot changes in a year.  Age, grade, interest, and perhaps most importantly, the way you spend your Saturday mornings.  

As a senior, today’s morning was spent submitting a college application, but for many juniors that I know, this morning was full of math problems and grammar questions.  

Yes, I unfortunately remember my SAT prep class on Saturday mornings, and the hours spent in an unfamiliar desk taking a test when I should be sleeping.  Regarding the test itself, I took both the SAT and the ACT twice each, all with writing, amounting to about 20 hours of my time. It’s a lot. I get it.

However, what I’m about to share isn’t what you might be expecting.  Not a lot of people see more than one reward to these standardized tests.  The obvious one is, of course, a leg up in college admissions. I found something else.  Kind people.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: no one is taking these tests for fun or because they have a strong personal desire to be in the desk, at the unfamiliar school, filled with unknown faces.

That was me in June of this year, wandering around New Trier High School in flip flops and sweatpants, knowing barely anyone and having no desire to.  I found myself subconsciously judging the school, wishing I were taking the test at our familiar school, or even sleeping in a little. School had just ended–I had no desire to exert any brainpower until August.

What also sucks about testing is the fact that test takers are split up by name, and of course, no one from our school had the same room as I did, thanks to how the names fell.

I walked up to my room, and the only other kid there was wearing headphones and staring at his phone.  I sighed and pulled out mine as well. The screen was seemingly the only familiar thing around me.

When our proctor poked her head out and told us to prep our IDs and get rid of the phones, headphone guy pulled his off and turned to me and started talking to me.  I was taken aback, almost shocked.

His name was Asher.  He was a student at New Trier, a rising senior like I was.  He asked about Lake Forest, and about my experiences with the ACT that we were about to take.  I let my guard down and started to feel comfortable in the school, and with myself.

Asher was seated in front of me.  While waiting for everything to get settled, we talked more about school and about the test.  I remember getting a tap on my shoulder from the girl behind me, asking me questions about the test as well, since I had taken it before.  She introduced herself as Jordan.

And just like that, I knew people.

In between tests and during breaks, we were a unit.  Jordan was involved in theater and videography. Asher was named after a character in the book (My Name Is Asher Lev) I had just read.  They both were students at the same school, yet they had never met before.

During our 10 minute break, we walked around the new wing of New Trier, and they pointed out all the new additions and their uses.  Our proctor had to ask Asher to turn around a few times when she was giving directions (oops).

After we all finished, we walked out the same way we’d come in, except this time together.  Once outside, we exchanged Instagram information, wishing each other luck. I haven’t seen either of them since.

I have, however, seen their posts and their activities at their school.  We texted each other when the scores in to make sure we’d all received them.  We like each other’s photos. I’m friends with Asher on Facebook.

Why am I making such a big deal out of this?  Maybe it’s to prove that there is sometimes good in a place where we might not expect it.  While it testing may seem like a somewhat lonely process, we aren’t the only students having to go through it.  We’re not the only school, either.

That June test date makes me smile, and even though I did not do as well on the test itself as I may have liked, I gained something from the experience.

So, juniors and other test takers: I get that it’s a pain, and I get that it’s a hassle.  But I think you’ll find something valuable in those around you, who are going through the exact same thing as you are.

So maybe be like Asher was to me.  Say hello. Introduce yourself. Make someone feel more comfortable.  Make yourself more comfortable. Let go of your familiar group mentality for just a few hours and find a new group.

Good luck with your testing.  I must say I don’t envy you.

And remember, if the answer is C five times in a row, something’s probably wrong.