A Homeschooler Takes the SAT

Since my sister is a junior and will soon be taking the SAT, I thought I would tell you about my experience.

Up till my junior year of highschool, I could say that I had never spent a day in a traditional classroom.  That changed on a certain Saturday in May — the day I took the SAT.

Walking into the building, I was five feet, nine inches of nerves. I had never been inside a highschool, and L—– Highschool was big, like a thousand kids.  I had gotten there plenty early, but that just meant fewer other teens were around for me to follow.  My stomach was feeling hollow despite the breakfast I had eaten as usual.

Thoughts racing, spirit praying, I approached the glass front doors and saw with relief that the list of room assignments was posted there.  I was so nervous that I had to stand there twice as long as I should have needed in order to fix in my brain which room I should look for.  With a deep breath, I opened the door and braved the unknown.

A quick glance around the hallway revealed signs pointing the way for SAT takers, upstairs, and two other girls were heading up just ahead of me.  I tried to look nonchalant and inconspicuous as I zeroed in and followed some yards behind.  This was not so hard after all.

Then I got to the top of the stairs.

A glance revealed two corridors, one to the left and one straight ahead.  My brain began whirling.  Which way?  Did it matter?  It did matter, because three teens were standing in the hall to the left and if I went either way and did not find my room, I might have to pass them again and betray my ignorance.  Not something I was keen on in that state of mind.

I still had to decide which way, and the nanoseconds were racing away.  Heart pounding and eyes focused, I chose to face the tigers and walked right past the teens down the left hallway.  For good or ill, I was stuck now.  Checking the room numbers, I saw that my room was further down.  Farther away from the kids at the head of the stairs.  So far so good.

Then I neared the end of the long hall and realized that my room number was not on this hall.  For a second, I faced the thought of backtracking in plain view of the kids behind me.  Only for a second.  Then I saw that the hall went around a corner.  Gratefully, I disappeared around it.

My room was not on this next hall either, but now I could see that this floor of the school was built on a square with the hallway forming a square in the middle, classrooms both on the inside of the hall and the outside. 

My room was in the last corner.  If I had chosen to go straight from the stairs, I would have found it no problem.

Oh, well, at least I had found the room.  I sat against the wall and waited.  I was so early, not even the proctors had arrived yet.  A few kids passed me, but I did not make eye contact.  I did not know anyone going there and no one I knew was taking their test there that day.  When the proctor, a short lady with a no-nonsense air, arrived and opened our room, I sat for another minute and let someone else be first in line.

I was the second person in the room, and so when she had finished checking my papers and my permit, the proctor sent me to the last seat in the third column from the far end of the room.  A grand place to be with no one behind me.  The room gradually filled with people I did not know, and I watched them, noting the scholars from the socialites from the athletes.  Unpracticed as I was, they were not hard to tell apart.

I never spoke to any of the other students.  During one break, I said a few words to the proctor, but even that was brief.  If I had not already known that I was shy in a room full of strangers, I knew it now.  Not like any of them were rushing to introduce themselves to me, either, though they talked among themselves in bunches.

The test itself was not too hard, once I got the essay out of the way.  I knew that was going to be my weakest link.  The questions on the practice exams I had done were always a bit weird.  I was not happy with my essay, but it was good enough, I thought.  Not the best one I had done, but the graders knew that it was a first draft, after all. Still, my first drafts of regular assignments usually needed a lot more work before they were ready for Mom’s critical eye.

The rest of the test blurs in my memory.  I recall glancing around at the other students while checking the clock to mark my progress.  For most of the sections, especially the other writing ones, I was done with several minutes to spare, which I used to go back and rework any problems which had been difficult.  When the test was over, I felt pretty confident.   Nothing had been harder than I expected.

I let everyone else clear out while I re-packed my bag and got ready to leave.  By the time I reached the hall, only three other people were in sight, all of them nearly to the stairs.  My feet were much lighter going down than they had been coming up.

Of course, when I hit ground level, my progress slowed quite a bit.  Seemingly every kid who had taken the SAT that Saturday was in that hall.  I had to work my way through the mass of teenagers, always keeping an eye above the crowd so I would eventually end up at the front door.

I did finally reach the door and walk out into the fresh air.  Was it ever good to breath again.  Mom was waiting with the van, and I was free to go home.

Home.

I do not think I had ever realized before taking the SAT just how much I loved doing school at home.  Classrooms and peers were not for me.  I wanted the space to learn, I wanted the balance of independence and guidance my mom could give me, and I wanted the freedom to be myself without regard to what others thought.  I wanted to learn at home, where we enjoyed learning, loved each other, and honored God.

Home: Where My Heart Is.

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2 Comments on “A Homeschooler Takes the SAT”

  1. Kyle Says:

    The thing I remember most about the SAT was they made us write an entire sentence in cursive – something about understanding the rules and not cheating. I had given up cursive after elementary school – printing was just much more clear.

    I took the SAT twice – I did pretty well the first time, but didn’t spend a lot of time preparing, so I figured I could do better if I took it again. Wrong.


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