The Perfect Score Project

One mom's quest to ace the SAT.

I Prefer to Think of Myself as a "Postponer”

Dealing with mental fatigue.

Don't even utter the Q word in my presence.

You have no idea how I agonized over this decision.

As soon as I heard that everyone quits Kumon on Level D,  I was like... No way – that will not be me. I'm in... I'm a lifer... You just watch. La-di-da.

Even when I got sent back to "GO" on Level D, and had to start over with that long division, in my head, because I made too many mistakes – I was inI was committed.

But you try dividing 2345 by 43... without carrying numbers... after a few SAT Critical Reading sections and some SAT Math – and picking through that knotty Writing section in search of comma splices and dangling modifiers – and then let's talk.

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I'm not going to lie: It hurt.

I started skipping days, and then feel I'd feel unbearably guilty. Unendurably guilty. There were nights, after I'd fallen behind by a few days, that I felt so ashamed that I actually got out of bed and went downstairs after midnight and tried to catch myself up for before next day.

Anything, not to be a quitter.

Looking back, I think it's pretty clear where I slipped up:

1) I intentionally moved Kumon to the post-SAT portion of my day so that my fresh brain juice was used on the SAT stuff  – and Kumon got the empty tank of gas.

2) Layer in a little teenage drama (see "Decision Fatigue" post for more details)

3) And then add a level of difficulty to Kumon that made the task of changing mixed numbers such as 333/19 –  into whole numbers, without scratch paper on a fatigued brain – fast, and without mistakes – hundreds of them (or at least it felt that way when I was behind by a few days) – and I caved.

After days of mental fatigue, I took a cold hard look at everything on my plate: I've committed to this SAT thing, that's got to stay. The kids, well, um, they can't go either. Cooking, bills, errands – no no no. Can't cut.

So it came down to Kumon, and let me tell you, it did not feel good to have to call Jennifer at my local Kumon Center and ask her if she could put my membership on hold.

Just to clarify... this is a postponement.

I want my Level O Certificate, and I want my worksheet sculpture.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm a believer. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have enrolled my kids before they knew what hit them.

I will be back!

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis


Debbie Stier is the founder of The Perfect Score Project, and is writing a book about her experience of trying to get a perfect SAT score.


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