Shake Off That SAT Stress

Dec 18, 2012

RadioActive Youth Producer Evan Adams speaks at the Fall 2012 Listening Party at the South Park Community Center.
RadioActive Youth Producer Evan Adams speaks at the Fall 2012 Listening Party at the South Park Community Center.
Credit Jason Pagano / KUOW

RadioActive youth producer Evan Adams is a junior at Garfield High School in Seattle. He is stressing about taking the SAT because he wants to get into the college of his dreams, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But MIT requires high SAT scores, and Evan struggles with tests. He shares his story.

Right now at school I get OK grades — I'm working to get all As. But I have pretty much failed every major test since the beginning of sixth grade despite the countless hours I have spent studying for the tests.

When I take a test I get stressed out. Recently, I took the practice SAT at my high school. It's a three-hour test. The whole time I was taking the test, I was hoping to God that I put down the right answers.

When I'm taking a test it's pure silence. That's when I start to freak out a little bit. Whenever I'm sitting down for long periods of time, I start to get really anxious and that makes it hard for me to take tests.

I wanted to see if it's still possible for me to go to MIT, even though I'm a bad test taker. So I contacted MIT Director of Admissions Matt McGann and asked him. Here's what he said:

We know that students have different strengths, and sometimes that may be in taking exams. Other times their academic strengths may come out other places, and that's why we really want to take a holistic look at the application. We want to consider all parts of a student's academic preparation and their college readiness. Standardized tests like the SAT or ACT can be one part of it, but we also really want to see how you've done in high school, and actually having taken challenging courses and gotten good grades in high school is going to be the most important part of our process.

I also learned that MIT doesn't look only at school performance — admissions officers look at students' behavior outside of school, too.

Since my conversation with Matt, I feel like a 1,000-pound brick got lifted off my shoulders, and I can breathe a lot easier. I feel like I got more stressed out than I needed to be.

This fall, KUOW hosted an after-school workshop for high school students at the South Park Community Center. It was part of our youth radio program, RadioActive. Six youth producers spent eight weeks learning what it means to be a radio journalist. They created powerful stories about subjects close to their hearts. Listen to RadioActive stories here and stay up-to-date with RadioActive on Facebook.