For the Name of Homeschoolers...
I arrived at 7:45, as the sheet said. There were already about thirty people clustered around a bulletin board to see which testing room they would be in. My mom and I found my name, on the Auditorium list. So, we said goodbye and I walked toward the auditorium, hoping it wouldn’t be far so that I would get lost. The man at the door checked my passport and admission ticket, and then I went in and sat down. I pulled my pencils, calculator, and eraser out of my bag and organized them on the desk. It was getting close to 8 AM, and more people were sitting down. I wondered how many people would be “fashionably” in Arab time – fifteen minutes, even half an hour late. We were about to start, when at 8:02 a tall Arab student walked into the room, his white kandoora sweeping the floor as he strode toward a seat and took his big reflective sunglasses off. At 8:05, three Emirati girls walked in, their sheylas pushed back so that their bangs showed, abayas flying open so we could see their six-inch heels and stylish jeans.
We finally got started. Partway through the first section, while I was filling my mind with random phrases and examples I could use in my essay, the girl in front of me asked for the air conditioning to turn down – I agreed inwardly, I was shivering, even in my sweater, and even though it was 39 C outside. They turned it down, but the formidable foe kept on roaring, blowing its freezing breath on me. The proctors walked up and down between the rows of students pouring over their worksheets. One pushed buttons on his mobile phone as he walked, another peered over our shoulders as he fumbled with prayer beads. One in the front of the room sat, looking bored and checking his watch. The essay section finished, we moved on to the next. The proctors continued to look bored, and I felt just as bored as they looked.
We got to first math section, and some of the students opened their test books for the first time – I felt so sorry for them, they had to sit there doing nothing while we worked on other sections. “You may begin,” a proctor said, and then kept talking. I sighed, wishing he would be quiet so I could focus, after all, he said we could start. “… and you may not move on to another section when you finish, or go back to the other ones…” He droned on, his accent heavy.
I took a drink of water from my water bottle during the break, then escaped the blows of the formidable foe to go into sunshine outside for a few brief moments. Then we were herded back into the testing room – and back into the reach of the formidable foe – with cries of “yella!” from the proctors.
Many sections and another break (during which I noticed 2 of the girls were twins, that’s why I’d had déjà vu earlier…) later, we started the insufferable writing section. I hate that section worse than the math ones. I finished with twelve minutes to spare, then checked my work, and still had over five minutes until we finished. I started ‘twiddling my thumbs,’ but then “That which was from the beginning…” popped into my head, and I started reviewing all of my memory verses in my head. 1 John 1, Song of Solomon 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 1 Timothy 4:6-16, 1 Timothy 2:1-13, and 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 later, it was finally time to move on.
I started slacking as my nose began to run and the formidable foe blew even harder, and I fidgeted because I couldn’t cross my legs under the low desk. I was thankful, however, that my feet did touch the floor for once.
At last they released us from that room, and I walked out and pulled out my mobile only to find out that my battery was dead. I quickly asked another girl if I could borrow hers to call my mom, and she agreed. Then we talked briefly – she was an American, too, from Texas, but had lived here all her life.
I ran quickly to the gate to wait for my parents, hoping they’d be there soon…
I felt very smart when I deleted the “SAT Question of the Day” from my bookmarks this afternoon, and rejoiced to know that I need never open the Princeton Review book ever again. I busied myself with the things I love – writing, housework, and oboe (Piano and guitar were no-no’s that day, as I’d already almost killed my thumb filling in bubbles). I wondered again why I even took the SAT, as I’m not going to college. “For the name of homeschoolers,” I reminded myself. “For the name of homeschoolers…”