K. B./Centennial HS/1580/Aug 17'

It was Monday, June 19th. I went to the bus stop at around 7:25 am, and there was a silver Ford van that was our “bus” waiting for me. I got in, and there were a few other people already inside. There was barely any space. It was made worse when, at the next stop, 4 more people came in, making the van at capacity. It’s going to be a long two weeks, I thought. Once we arrived, I felt even more isolated. People seemed to know each other, and were talking, while I just sat there. But the instruction from the teachers was worth it. In the essay class, I got an idea for what I will have to write about, how to read the article, and how to structure my essay. In the math class, I got a feel for the different types of questions, and how to answer each one. The reading class was especially important, as I usually struggled in reading in school as well. The strategies I learned to tackle the questions, such as answering the questions for which I did not have to read the passage first, helped me a lot. The writing class gave me practice with the writing section, as well as strategies such as looking for the shortest answer. I gritted my teeth through the bus ride for the two weeks, so that I could gain knowledge on how to do well on the SAT.

After the first two week class ended, I did SAT practice at home. Every day, I did Khan Academy practice, and I did a practice test on the weekends. However, I still struggled in the reading section. The strategies that I had learned revolved around how to answer the questions, but I often had a hard time understanding the passage. I got around 7 questions wrong in the reading section each time I took a practice test. The answer explanations that Khan Academy provided puzzled me, and I became increasingly frustrated at my lack of success.

My second session began on July 31st. This time, because of the increased number of people, there was an actual school bus to take me, instead of a Ford van. I was glad, because I had much more room. I hoped to learn how to understand the reading section passages better in this session. And my wish was granted. The teacher taught us about the different types of passages presented, and gave us strategies on how to read them. The strategy of annotating has stuck with me, and I do it instinctively on all the handouts my teachers in school give me. As I understood the passages better, I gained confidence.

After the second session ended, I was back to doing practice on Khan Academy. As the test date of August 26th approached, I began to do more practice tests. In the two weeks preceding the test day, I was doing a practice test every day. I would do the reading section in the morning, the writing section in the afternoon, and the math sections in the evening. I redid all the packets that I received from the camp. My scores from before Session 2 were in the 1300s, but my scores from after were in the high 1400s and even the 1500s. On test day, my father dropped me off at some old high school, where I would be taking the test. When I took it, I actually treated it like the countless practice tests I had taken in my room, and so I felt little pressure. After I finished the test, my father picked me up, and after that it was just a normal Saturday.

I knew that my scores would come sometime in September, but I didn’t know the exact date. Because of that, the night before the scores were to come out, my parents couldn’t sleep, while I slept in peace. My mother was the first to inform me about my score, which was an amazing 1580. I couldn’t believe it, as it was higher than any of my practice test scores. I was able to do the reading comprehension when it mattered, and I owe it all to Dr. Li’s summer camp.