Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Woes of High School and Taking the SATs

Oh look! A wild blog post appeared!

What’s that? You’re saying I haven’t posted on this blog in Weeks? Months? Years, even? I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. I would never neglect my blog for that long.

Anyway, now that school has finally come to a close, I suppose I should start keeping up with my blog posts again. And in honor of school ending, I am here to complain about it.

First of all, I should say that I have several...opinions about high school. And I don’t mean just with the American education system--don’t even get me started on that--I mean with just the ideals of high school in general. Essentially, you have about 8, maybe 9 classes a day, and 8 or 9 different teachers. Now, imagine that each one of these teachers is under the impression that their class is the most important thing in your life and that you have no other classes or obligations to take care of.

So every night, each one of these teachers will assign you about two hours of homework, assuming that you have nothing better to do that night, and, why not, they’ll throw in a test or a quiz that is coming up in say, about a week that they obviously expect you to study every night for. So you end up with several hours of homework that’s going to take up your entire afternoon, plus you probably have some extracurricular activities like sports or clubs to deal with as well. So your choices are to a) do whatever homework you can in the time you have and then take your chances doing the rest during lunch and throwaway classes, b) spend all of you time doing all your homework very carefully and end up staying up until after midnight and leave no time for your own enjoyment, or c) half-ass all your homework so you get it all done but it’s mediocre, and you have a little bit of time left to do your own thing.

So the next day you get to school, attempt to finish whatever homework you didn’t get to before its respective class, and depending on which option you picked, you are either scrambling to get it done, falling asleep in class, or sporting a mediocre grade because of your mediocre homework.

Then it’s rinse and repeat. Day after day after day until suddenly that quiz that your teacher scheduled jumps up and you get a C because you were too busy taking care of your homework and your after school activities to study for it.

Essentially, high school is trying to give us all gray hair before we turn 18. Teenagers should not be stressed out this much.

I’m not saying that it’s always like this, because occasionally you have a few nights with no homework or only a little bit. But not too often.

Also, the majority of these teachers don’t actually understand the meaning of the word “break”. After spending two or three months frantically trying to keep up in all your classes, when winter break comes along you are pretty relieved. Finally you get some time to yourself, some time that you don’t have to spend worrying about what test is coming up or how the grade you have in so and so class is slightly below par. Right? Wrong. Your teachers, assuming that obviously you will have nothing better to do over break, happily assign you projects and essays and dialectic notebooks and the most torturous assignments they can think of, so that you are just as stressed over the break as you are while school is in session.

Not to mention, you are also expected to be “preparing” yourself for SATs so that you can take them your junior year (as if you didn’t have enough to do your junior year, the busiest year of high school) and get a good score. I have a lot of things to say about the SATs. Let’s ignore the fact that the SAT is a standardized Common Core test for now; I don’t think I’ll enter that minefield just yet.

Let’s start with the fact that the SAT is a five hour long test. Yes, five hours. The test starts at 8 AM, and usually runs until about 12:45. Now let me ask you--what teenager is going to perform at his or her best in a situation where he or she has to sit still for five hours straight and stare at a bunch of vague, idiotic questions?

The first time I went to take the SATs, I went in there not realizing how long it was going to be. We had taken PSATs at my school, which was supposed to be like a practice SAT, and it only took about two hours. Then I got to the test, and realized that there were ten test sections to fill out, including the essay. For the first few sections I felt pretty confident and was doing well. But around section 5, I began to get tired. My brain can only handle so much at one time before it totally burns out. And the more exhausted I got, the less I cared, and the madder I got.

Who the hell thought it was a good idea to create a five-hour test, and then force every teenager in the country to take it? As I was pushing through the end of that test, caring less and less about my overall score, I realized that the rest of my life was almost entirely dependent on this test. I mean, for most colleges, your SAT scores are extremely important (since standardized tests are so good at determining your overall intelligence). If your scores aren’t high enough, you probably aren’t getting in. And if you can’t get into college, then I hate to break it to you, but the rest of your life is probably shot.

Yeah, maybe it’s a little melodramatic to say so, but to me sitting there suffering my way through a test that long on a Saturday morning, I was pretty horrified when I started thinking that the rest of my life depended on this test.

And then when you get your scores, if your score is not as good as you wanted it, then not only have you wasted five hours of your precious weekend, but you now have to waste another five hours on a different weekend retaking the test to try and get a better score.

Essentially, I find the whole system ridiculous. But I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is grumble about it and write scathing blog posts.

Now excuse me. I have to go and turn in my AP Spanish homework online by July 28th, or I’ll get a bad grade.


  1. The SATs didn't used to be 5 hours long. You can blame the test-crazed government for that.