Student “Horror Stories” & How to Avoid Them

Article by: Samantha Borja
Illustration by: Sung Hee Bae

Whether you’ve taken the dreaded standardized tests or the usual end of year exams, the stress and anxiety students face during testing periods is undoubtedly overwhelming. On top of studying for the content and being locked in a frigid room with hundreds of students and the formality of the proctors’ voices, these hypothetical situations of worst-case testing scenarios only heighten those nerves. Unfortunately for some, however, these ‘horror stories’ have come to life.

Senior Javier S. says, “I signed up for subject tests in August, but then I changed my mind halfway to take the SAT instead, so I began to study for the SAT until October, when the exam was. Then I got an email from the College Board saying “your subject test admission ticket is ready to be printed”, even though I thought I was taking the normal SATs – I didn’t switch it even though I thought I did; it was too late to switch back unless I payed $150. I began to cram for my subject tests 3 days before the exam itself.”

Similarly, junior Jessica Z. describes her own personal nightmare: “When I was in eighth grade, I took the SAT and the test room was basically this underground chamber. During one of the five minute breaks, I had to use the bathroom, but I had to climb a bunch of stairs to get to their restrooms, and by the time I got back, I was five minutes late to the section. Also, during that section, I filled the answer sheet in incorrectly and had to erase half of my answers and refill the circles. It didn’t help that there were so many mosquitos too!”

To avoid such instances, fellow high schoolers have also offered their practical, yet sometimes unorthodox, methods of dealing with exams. Senior Sami U. rubs small amounts of peppermint oil onto her temples to induce brain stimulation and activity. On the other hand, senior Ysabel A. circles answers on the ACT booklet and transfers them to the bubble sheet after finishing each page – saving time and keeping her thought momentum. To relieve stress, junior Soham M. visualizes himself taking the game-winning shot at IASAS basketball, outweighing the pressure of any exam, and thus leaving himself less stressed.

Though the stress and pressure are inevitable in any testing environment, with the right mindset and advice, the testing situation may not be as stressful as we perceive.