Monday, January 25, 2010

the other side of the SATs...not dark though...still pretty legit

So I proctored the SATs on Saturday for the second time, and although I was bored for a while, I've decided it's totally worth it. So many entertaining-maybe-only-to-me things happened...I can't even begin to describe.

Just kidding--I totally can. That's what I'm doing here.

So envision with me, if you will...a college campus that's a little complicated to navigate (aren't we all?), where all the buildings look the same, and where they all have lovely large wooden doors. Also, envision a bunch of clouds and rain. That was USD on Saturday.

Now take that campus and insert me, my friend Jimmy, who works at USD, my friend Nick, married to my friend Mindy (this matters later), a couple of other grown ups, and about 15 college students who work for Jimmy. That was the proctor pool at the SATs on Saturday.

NOW that you have all of that solidified...add about 300 super nervous kids, all with big ziplock bags full of pencils, calculators and granola bars, and their overprotective parents.

And that was Saturday.

For those of us who haven't taken an SAT in, I don't know, more than ten years, here's how they worked.
On the walls of the the hall where students walked in, room assignments were posted for SATs and SAT IIs. Once a student knew what test s/he was taking (you'd think they'd all know, because the tests are REALLY, REALLY different), s/he would just look to see where, on the list, their name fell in order to see their room assignment.

Por ejemplo: one sheet said SAT, Room 308, Francisco--Herman. So if you are Ben Francisco, Jackie Herman...hell...even Guadalupe Garner or Ajumbe're in 308.

Get it?

No worries if you don't...neither did a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds.

Oh, here's something else cool to envision--you enter on the second floor of this building. Floor one is below us, and floor three is above.

So I get there at 7 (amazing!), and as I'm getting out of my car a kid comes running over to me and says "Do you know where Serra Hall is?," to which I reply "Sure--it's to the right. I'm headed that way if you want to come along!" He said "Ok let me tell my dad."

He pops back into an SUV to tell his dad, who zooms off, then comes to follow me. Here's our conversation:
Me: "Are you taking the SAT?"
Him: "Yeah...........are you?"
Me: "No...I did that a little while ago. But it was a good time. Are you excited?"
Him: "Ha ha...sure."
Me: "Have you taken the test before?"
Him: "No...and I'm a senior."
Me: "Awesome. Well good luck, man."

P.S. That is NOT awesome. It's basically too late to get in any college with the January SAT.

And that was just the beginning of the awesomeness. The following things also happened throughout the day:

--I saw a boy with jeans tucked into his Uggs.

--I was a hall proctor, which meant that in between breaks, I was hanging out with Jimmy in the main room. Nick was in a room with a reader, so he checked for cheating in that room, while that girl read the instructions. The girl in his room came into the main room (where I was sitting with Jimmy) to turn in her roster, and I said "Ha--Nick sent me a text saying that it's real boring in there." Apparently, that girl read a LOT into that, because she went back and told Nick he could go to the main room and hang out with his wife if he wanted.
This is the ring I was wearing that day.

Yes, everyone. We are married...he got a platinum band, and I got a big owl ring.

--after explaining repeatedly to EVERY group that came in "Just find where your name falls on the wall and that will send you to your assigned room. We're on the second floor," a mom came up to me in a panic and said "Our name isn't on the wall!!!!!!!!" Really, Gina? You really think we post everyone's name on the wall? You really think only 12 people are taking the SAT today?

--Again, after REPEATEDLY saying "Just find where your name falls on the wall and that will send you to your assigned room. We're on the second floor," at least ten people said "Where are the stairs for the second floor?" Right here, kid. You're on them. They're invisible, and they don't go up or down.

--A mom very confrontationally asked me "So when is the SAT going on the computer? Because it's the last test to be on paper." First of all, no it's not, which I happily told her, and second, I had a handwritten name tag with "SHANNON" written on it in colored Sharpie. Do you really think I speak for CollegeBoard?

--Another mom (see a theme?) came to me, also in a panic, and said "This says his ID has to be the same as his ticket...he signed up as Mark G. Smith, but his ID says Mark GORDON Smith!!!!" Oh noooo identity thefttttt!!!

--A mom (what?) and dad sent their son off, and were still staring at the wall, looking extremely concerned, so I walked over and asked if I could help with anything, and no lie, the mom said (in one breath) "Well I see that there are 7th and 8th graders taking the test today [more on that in a sec] and my son is a freshman and this is his second SAT and he's only scoring in the 700s on each section and I know he can perform better than that so we're signing him up for more so he can get those perfect scores but I'm so worried that colleges will see these first few tests and see those low marks and think that he isn't very smart and that the perfects are just flukes!!!"

**Even though the SATs have added a writing section, each section is still out of 800...soooo scores in the 700s are pretty good...especially for a friggin 13 year old.**

So I tried to console this mom without being incredulous and told her that in my office, we'd view that as motivation, and that it would show that he's a hard worker. I thought she was going to hug me.

--So yes, 7th and 8th graders can now, as a part of a Johns Hopkins program, take the full SAT. They're 11 and 12 years old. COME. ON.

--After everyone had gone to their rooms, IDs checked, kids in seats, a fellow hall proctor came walking in with a disheveled looking girl and said "I found a lost one!" She was looking at the wall, so I asked "Do you know where you're headed?", to which she replied "Uh huh...I'm here for the SAT?" Yeah girl...yeah.

And my favorite...

--If a test site is full when you sign up, you can still sign up to take the test on stand-by--it just means you have to check in, then wait to see if people don't show up, so you can take their spot (was that insulting that I just explained "stand-by"? Sorry about that). About five stand by kids were eventually assigned rooms, but of course, it was after all the other kids were in rooms, so when they came out into the hall with their assignments, it felt like they were late, because the hall was empty, even though all the rooms were waiting for them. That made them more nervous than they already were.
So this one guy had pencils, a calculator, snacks, his ticket and his ID in one hand (most in a bag), and when he was walking, knocked over a Wet Floor sign--one of the triangle-sandwich-board-style ones that sits up, then folds down (was that also insulting?? I just don't want you to think it's one of the cone-pyramid ones!!). He bent down to pick it up, realized that he couldn't open it up to stand it back up, looked around, saw all of us looking at him, laid it back on the ground where it had fallen and ran.


I'm always doing this!!!


  1. Had me laughing the whole time! Who knew the SATs could be so entertaining?

  2. well, sister wife...i hope you're happy you let the cat out of the bag about our marriage(s).

  3. You should've just been like, "Seriously Helicopter Parent???"