Getting lost in the bathroom during the SAT: a traumatic experience

October 23, 2017 — by Esha Lakhotia

After standing in line for 40 minutes to get into the test center, Junior Esha Lakhotia scurried to her assigned classroom only to find out her name wasn't on the list.

Running from hall to hall, my legs were moving faster than my mind could comprehend. All I could think about was how this moment would destroy my SAT score and ruin my chances of getting into college.

I rolled out of bed at 5:02 a.m, unaware that the day ahead of me was going to be one of the most stressful days of my life as I was traveling all the way to Seaside High School in the Monterey Peninsula to take the exam.

Yes, I knew I was taking the a naturally stressful test, but I didn’t know that by 1 p.m, I would have stood in line for 40 minutes in freezing weather, been assigned to the wrong test room and gotten lost on an unfamiliar campus.

After standing in line for 40 minutes to get into the test center, I scurried to my assigned classroom only to find out I was assigned to the wrong room, and my name wasn’t on the list.

Finally, unsure if my scores would even count, I proceeded to fill out the bubbles for my information and went into the reading section, already stressed out from the hectic morning.

After the reading section, we had a 10-minute break so I decided to go to the bathroom. When I went into the stall, I immediately noticed graffiti on the walls with racial slurs, derogatory words targeted to different sexual orientations and other profanity. I was a bit shocked, but I didn’t let it bother me. As I exited the stall, I noticed that everyone had already left and that I was the only one in the bathroom.

Usually, I like when I’m alone in public bathrooms, but this time was different. I realized I didn’t know the way back to the classroom. I already felt like I was rushed and now I was running in the halls, trying different patterns of lefts and rights to get to my classroom.

Even though I was probably lost for only six or seven minutes, I felt like I was running around for hours. I was shaking; I didn’t want to miss time on the next section just because I had to go to the bathroom.

After frantically running around I found the room and burst into the class panting and scurried into my seat. To my horror, four minutes of the writing section had already begun and I panicked even more, wondering if I would get to all the questions in time.

During the test, I tried to quickly answer the questions to compensate for that 4-minute delay. Luckily, I don’t think the delay really affected the accuracy of my answers — I still thought carefully and managed to calm myself down when I realized I was on track with the time.

What lessons did I learn? For one, it’s best to sign up early to get a closer and more familiar testing location as well as arrive really early to the center in order to map out the bathroom route before starting the test. As for myself, I know that I’m never going to the bathroom during a timed test ever again.


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