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From Kronos to the SAT’s…


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The Day the World Stood Still… for Two Hours While I Took the SAT IIs.

More stressful than a concert at Carnegie Hall, more tiring than going by bullet train to plane to bus in Japan, more difficult than any Michael Gordon piece, the SAT was devised to cause mass devastation to families and teenage self-esteem across America. I shudder thinking about the ridiculous amount of times I’ve had to wake up early at 6:15, solemnly shower, grab my #2 pencils (don’t you dare let them be mechanical!) and trudge out to the testing center.


Leaving the Kronos concert Friday night, my family and I took a joy ride to Princeton, New Jersey where I subsequently went to sleep for 5 hours, only to be woken up with shivering fear at 6; it was time. I took my achievements at the Lawrenceville Boarding School gymnasium, surrounded by other squirming seniors anxious to be done with their terrifying 1, 2, or 3 subject tests. The proctor read aloud: “Welcome to the SAT Subject Test. Testing will begin soon, but first we must go over some guidelines. No eating, drinking, or smoking is aloud during testing. If you are caught attempting to gain an unfair advantage by cheating, sharing answers, or discussing questions, your test will be taken and you will…” I could only imagine the list of horrific tortures the creators of the SAT could unleash on the poor student who dared look at another’s page. If they could summon out of thin air a list of malicious questions, consisting of five parts designed to confuse and trip teenagers up, who could imagine what physical evils they were capable of too?

But upon starting the exams, I quickly realized that my fears were misplaced. The test itself wasn’t frightening; I was letting my head get to me. I was my own obstacle. The math was the same thing I’d done in school last year. The literature contained types of poems I was used to analyzing. Nothing was new.

So I walked out of that exam feeling confident. Half the test is getting past the mental barrier. Like Michael Gordon’s “Exalted” piece, what looks intimidating and foreign at first, can be mastered by recognizing the similarities it shares with songs we’ve done past, and, of course, a lot of practice.

– Charlie, Young Men