Student shares nightmare of becoming nocturnal zombie

October 28, 2015 — by Caitlin Ju

Junior warns of the horrors of cramming. 

SAT books on her left, stacks of school homework on the right. Her light is the only one still on in the house. The clock’s bold red numbers spell out 4 a.m.

It’s a typical night for junior Shreya Ingle. As the “available” Facebook status indicates, it is also a late night for many other juniors, but unlike for them, the school nightmare does not end in the early morning for Ingle. Instead, it morphs into an endless cycle of caffeine jolts during first period, attempted short naps in the afternoon after tennis practice and private SAT classes that ended at 11 p.m.

Ingle’s breaking point came on Oct. 2, the day before the SAT. Sitting by the tennis courts at a tennis tournament, Ingle was attempting to cram all of Princeton Review’s “Word Smart” into her head before the big day.

“As I read the book, whenever I saw a word I didn’t know, I would become terrified,” Ingle said. “I had this irrational fear that the one word I didn’t study would be the one on the test.”

Because of the endless vocabulary lists, she developed a migraine that only worsened with the thought that there were only three other chances to take the current SAT: The new SAT debuts in March of 2016. To calm her nerves and relax, Ingle repeatedly calculated the number of hours she needed to sleep to optimize her performance. She was afraid that getting too much sleep would cause her body to want even more sleep, knocking her off her A-game.

On the morning of the SAT, Ingle awoke, realized she was almost late and panic ensued. She rushed to the testing center at Archbishop Mitty High School and took a seat, as ready as she could be for the test. Four hours and an SAT later, Ingle felt like crying. However, she soon realized that it was useless to worry about the few problems she was unsure about.

With the SAT over for now, Ingle thought she had conquered the monster known as junior year, but alas, she had fallen into the grasp of the test’s evil younger sibling: the newly changed PSAT that struck on Oct. 28.

Ingle feared that with the modified PSAT approaching, she would revert the dire state of stress caused by the SAT. Such a state had prompted her to shut herself away from her friends and had even made her think about dropping the tennis team, though she did not in the end. The result was that Ingle had precious little time to study, first for the SAT and then for the PSAT.

“I know practice tests help, but junior year makes it impossible to take the number of practice tests I want to,” Ingle said. “I’d make a plan to take a full PSAT practice test and realize how unreasonable that plan was, or the plan would not work out, and I’d fall apart.”

Still, Ingle was not disheartened. She pushed through the nightmarish weeks, looking forward to the time when standardized testing would be a distant memory, and she would be able to sit back and relax. But Ingle was far too optimistic.

Reality check time: The nightmare never ends, and juniors, beware — if you are not a nocturnal zombie yet, you will be soon.

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