I been collecting questions and making flashcards out of them over the last few months, but now I want to take them down, bird by bird, before I'm "immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead."*

They're all valid and deserve thoughtful responses -- questions such as:

  • Have my opinions and ideas on this project changed?
  • Do I still believe that it is possible that I can achieve a perfect score?
  • Have my ideas on influencing my children changed?  Do I feel that I've influenced them at all...either in the negative or positive sense.
  • Am I starting to believe that the SAT is more or less important than I first thought?
  • What were my parents' expectations of me when I was in school?
  • How did I respond to those expectations?
  • Did I push back? (Short answer: You have no idea.)
  • Do I wish my parents had pushed me more?
  • What do I think I've missed out on in life because I didn't do as well as I would have liked to in school?

.....and on and on and on.....

But I'm going to start with one from the easier pile:

How important do you think yoga has been to working through the SATs?

.....to which I responded:

YES YES YES, Yoga Helps.  Enormously.

I didn't have time to find more words, though I did find these from last January, a few weeks before my first SAT since 1982:

My anxiety about this SAT is so extreme that I committed to going to yoga every single day.  I had an epiphany in the midst of chants and oms and happy baby poses that the best thing I can do is to figure out how to relax.

Ok, that's a start, but I still had more to say.

The words I was searching for were delivered by my UPS guy today, in a vessel called Zen in the Art of the SAT.  As soon as cracked the book, I started with the, "Exactly!"  "Right."  "That's it!"

So instead of me wracking my brain, I'm just going to go with, yeah, what they said:

With the SAT, it's not enough to know the material.  To excel on the SAT you must be confident about your ability to read carefully and solve problems -- even strange, inscrutable ones -- under timed conditions.That's what makes the SAT so intimidating. You can't just memorize the material and then regurgitate it; you have to act in the moment......

As you learn how to ace the SAT, you will gain a deeper understanding of yourself....You will learn to do your best on the SAT not through any tricks or secret formulas, but rather by getting a firm handle on the workings of your own mind.

*Quote comes from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  If you haven't read this book yet, you must.

Illustration by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

The Perfect Score Project

One mom's quest to ace the SAT.
Catherine Johnson Ph.D.
Catherine Johnson, Ph.D. is an "afterschooling" parent and co-author of Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.

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