With merely seven minutes left on the math section and my head pounding, I looked down at my paper and words seemed to be swimming off the page. I just couldn't process what I was reading; nothing made sense, regardless of the dozens of hours I spent studying for the ACT that summer, tirelessly solving practice grammar questions and memorizing formulas. Inexplicably, my trembling hands felt clammy and my body froze. No matter how many deep breaths I took, I couldn't calm myself down. I couldn't stop thinking about how it was one of my last chances to improve my ACT score. A million dark thoughts took over my mind, the most dominating being, "This is it - I screwed up." I felt the most extreme wave of doubt, fear and hopeless that I had ever felt and ultimately, I could not finish the test. This first bout of test anxiety was a miserable feeling I had never experienced before and haunts me to this day. In the middle of the examination period, I canceled my test entirely and left the testing center in tears.
This story of mine is one difficult to tell as it signifies one of the most stressful eras of my life to date. It's a time in my life that I regret not the actions I took, but the feelings I felt towards myself and my future. To preface, I attended a rigorous public high school with enrolled students scoring in the top 5-10% of standardized test scores nationwide. As someone whose test-taking skills aren't her strong suit, I felt that one of my weaknesses when it came to getting into universities. In short, I never felt "good" enough and was completely insecure of my standing when it came into being accepted into my top-choice university, as I constantly compared myself to those who believe standardized testing is a breeze.
In retrospect, I realize I may have worried a little too much about my standardized test scores, as I have a tendency to do so and the score I considered "bad" was just a point or two short of my dream school's median range for the ACT. However, with the pressure put on me by my parents, let alone myself, I was obsessed with obtaining perfection on the useless skill of learning a standardized exam that in reality, didn't matter outside the realm of college admissions. It wasn't until after I finally got into my number-one university of choice that I came to this realization.
All this to say that I am certainly not the only one to suffer from test anxiety and the push for universities to make test scores optional is urgently needed. The pressure of getting into universities is perpetually increasing year after year, along with the stress of doing well on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT.
While standardized testing may measure one's aptitude, it mainly measures how well someone can figure out an exam, or "learn the test" as said by my former ACT tutor. It by no means is the only measure of one's intelligence, let alone self-worth. Although what happened to me was a haunting learning experience looking back at it, nobody should have to go through the emotions and anxiety I experienced that day and as a result, I will forever stand for the eradication of test score requirements in universities everywhere.
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