Click here for my reaction, via video, right after the November 5, 2011 SAT.

Given that this was my 6th SAT in  2011, and the first one I can say was a truly bad experience, I guess my odds aren't so bad (I'm trying to look on the bright side).

And, I'm trying to find the lessons to impart from my bad experience, so hopefully others can avoid the pitfalls.

1) Don't Take the SAT in a Gym if you can help it! The SAT 2 testers were right next door in the gym (cordoned off by a very non-sound proofed sliding wall), and that test ends an hour earlier and there was very loud (and understandable) jubilation when their test was done – and gyms amplify noise.  Are you getting the picture?

2) Maybe I'll add to this part of the story that the overly complacent proctor seemed oblivious to all of the amplified noise.

3) A Proper Desk is Very Important! This gym had "deskettes," which were big enough to house one 8 x 11 size booklet, which meant I could forget about getting comfortable in my surroundings and instead focus on the best way to "juggle" my test book, answer booklet, calculator and pencils.  NOT GOOD.

3) Keep Your Own Time! It didn't occur to me that I couldn't count on the proctors because I guess I got lucky in the past. Not today. He messed me up so badly I don't know where to begin. Watch the video for details.

4) November Test may breed Proctor Complacency. At least if I'm to judge by my experience today.  There were very few kids in attendance, and the proctors treated it like an exhibition game.

If this were a real stakes SAT for me, I'd cancel my scores before that deadline. Thankfully it's not (and I don't have to share if I don't want to).

If I were a senior and this was my "final shot," I'd be making a BIG stink right now with the College Board, that is for sure. I'd be insisting on a re-do because those conditions could not reflect my best abilities.

But maybe I'm just too sensitive.

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

About the Authors

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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