Mae took the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) today. It’s an exam that, if she scores well, will allow her to participate in summer camps and academic programs through Johns Hopkins University. I registered her almost two months ago. I thought I read all of the pertinent material about the test at that time. When I went online this morning to get directions, I saw a link for a practice test. So, there I was 40 minutes before test time asking her to answer sample questions. She answered a few of the verbal questions, said that she got the idea, and turned to go back to cartoon-watching. I said, “Wait, there is math too.” She made a pouting face and came back to the computer. She looked at the screen and asked, “What’s a whole number?” I started explaining, inadequately, I think, because I didn’t see a “lightbulb” moment. Cramming is probably a bad idea for a second-grader anyway. I let her go back to the TV. I felt bad about not noticing the practice test earlier, and, for that matter, not doing anything in particular to prepare her.
At the testing center, she was the only kid amongst a bunch of adults taking the MCAT and whatnot. As the proctor signed her in, I thought, “Oh, no, she’s going to be fidgety. She’s going to whine if she doesn’t know an answer. She’s going to distract someone who has been working long and hard for something that will determine their life’s destiny.” The proctor gave her instructions about staying quiet, logging in, using the tutorial, paying attention to time.” Then, I realized that she was going into the testing room on her own. I wasn’t even sure that Mae was paying attention to the instructions. When the proctor asked if she had any questions, Mae said no. I thought about backing out. I wasn’t sure she was ready for this.
Then, I thought about something Mae had said to me once. She was trying to convince me to buy some sugary cereal and she told me to “take chances. Make mistakes.” She learned this from Ms. Frizzle on “The Magic Schoolbus.” Ms. Frizzle was probably talking about something other than sugary cereal. Nonetheless, it’s good advice. We were there already; the $55 exam fee was spent. If Mae scores well, it will open doors for some challenging and exciting educational opportunities. If not, so what? This isn’t the type of thing that would upset her. I took a deep breath and let go.
The test should have taken 60-75 minutes. Mae went through the verbal portion in less than ten minutes. Umm, that seems too good to be true. She used the full time allotted for math, and didn’t finish all the questions, which she didn’t seem bothered about at all. It’s an above-grade level exam, and it’s meant to be difficult. We’ll know the results in about five days. Now, off to home to enjoy the rest of the weekend.