“The test commences at 8:45am. I work through the essay assignment, frantically, reading quietly as I print out my ideas on paper because I want to avoid silly mistakes.
‘Stop writing, pencils down!’ instructs the invigilator.
We start work on the next section.
The vocabulary in this section is mostly new. I struggle with the first few questions but employ the strategies my SAT tutor gave me and, surprisingly, I finish answering all the questions before the stern-faced lady calls the time. This boosts my confidence and I work on the other sections easily.
After close to four hours in the test room, the exam is finally over. I was out of the room tired but somewhat happy. I answered most of the questions and hopefully I gave the correct answers.”
I wrote those words in 2011 for an article in The SundayMail (the best-selling weekly in Zimbabwe). My early decision application to Amherst College had been deferred and, hoping to improve my chances for admission, I was retaking the SAT for the second time. Two weeks later I found out the result of my effort.
My SAT score had increased by a mere 70 points, from 1680 to 1750. I had given it my best shot, but that score wouldn’t increase my hope of getting into Amherst, my dream school, where the average SAT score is more like 2100.