University Thinking

University Thinking

In September 2019, Sahleah’s school offered sophomores the opportunity to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). Results became available in December and she did pretty well, earning a little under 1100.

Keeping the momentum going, I signed her up for Kaplan’s SAT prep course at George Mason University. I understood that she’d be one of a few sophomores in the class, while a majority of students are juniors or seniors. And, I also knew that some of the topics would be new to her and I prepped her for this.

About half-way through, as the curriculum covered calculus and word problems, she became a bit concerned about completing the problems in time. All of the problems she completed were correct, it was the pressure of matching the answers to the bubble sheet that caused her to slow down (paper test).

I was able to work with her school, who contacted College Board requesting accommodations for the math section. Sahleah was approved for a time extension for the math.

I chose this particular SAT prep, because of the reviews, but also because it gave her the opportunity to physically sit in a college-class room, that happened to be in the school of Art (which she’s interested in as a major). Also, George Mason has an amazing Autism Support Initiative (MASI) and is on the list of potential universities for her.

I saved the following write up in Sahleah’s words, to share a comparison between how she felt before and after her prep session. She’ll take her SATs this weekend!

January 18, 2020

SAT prep is one of the most grueling processes I am currently going through. Some of the math questions are difficult to do in my head. Bear in mind that the questions I’m talking about are statistic based with charts.

All these months I spent in my room as crunch time for the upcoming day creeped closer and close, started to get to me. Each hour of the day piling onto my psyche. Each question I knew less to do with, because I didn’t have a calculator at the time.

It was even more confusing when I saw things I wasn’t taught in school, in the study guide.  Sin, Cos and Tan were the trio that have not entered my town of knowledge yet. It’s impossible for me to do statistics work without a calculator, so most of the time I sat there with a grimace on my face for a solid 45 minutes.

Then there was the diagnostic-testing day. I went to George Mason University to get used to the environment of the real deal. Luckily, before I could panic, my mom bought me a scientific calculator I could use for the test. Getting in the building was difficult and we got lost twice. When we made it in, the room was dead silent. The ambience haunted me my entire stay there.

The walls closed in on me as the clock ticked down further and further. I hastily flip through the pages to make sure I filled the answers in correctly. The deafening silence crushed my sanity more and more as the hands twirled around methodically. Then, it was over. My practice test was done. I managed to get a decent score. Feeling proud of myself, I told mom.

The wave of relief of when she told me she was proud washed away any anxieties I had before. With this score I could build on my chances of getting into college even further. For the first time in months, I can relax with nothing shrouding my mind in dread.

March 9, 2020

The SAT prep classes are over. How do I feel about all of this? Well, I haven’t had more stress in my life for that long. Some things in the class were for AP senior classes. Keep in mind, I’m only a sophomore. Besides that, the teacher was really nice and the students were chill. Overall, not the most fun experience, but the most rewarding.


Going forward, I hope during the actual SAT, I get that time extension my mom applied for. I expect the environment to be like the PSAT or the SOLs. I’m rattling in my boots just thinking about it!

Wish me luck.

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