(image credit: Academical)

Following the SAT, it is a common belief that the future is bright… and entirely devoid of standardized tests. For many, this is not the case, as the later years of university life are often plagued by the Praxis or MTELs (if you are hoping to teach) or the GRE (if your goal is to pursue even more school after your first post-secondary degree).

As though the general stress of school, clubs, classes, family, work, and maintaining positive and healthy relationships isn’t enough, the added stress of tests that we perceive to control our fates can be the stone that breaks our psychological backs. You thought getting through TSA was a big deal? Try getting into a GRE test center.

The four hours I spent taking the GRE were some of the most stressful hours of my life. As high schoolers, we are led to believe that the decisions we make and the numbers we score will be the things that determine what the rest of our lives are going to look like. As a senior preparing to leave the safety net of my university in five short months, I am surprised to find that I feel very much the same way.

This can only lead me to believe that none of the decisions we make or test scores we receive can ever really define who we are, who we are becoming or who we will one day be. At this point in my life, only a few years later, my SAT score feels so far behind me, a hazy mirage of numbers that mean nothing. While scoring well on a standardized test surely increases the scope of access and the possibilities that lie ahead, it is a privilege to be able to take the test at all. Inherently, this means that there is no way that it can define us.

To all of the seniors or insanely prepared juniors out there pouring over flashcards or drowning in math that you have not seen in what feels like a lifetime, take solace in knowing that there is a world after whatever standardized test that is looming. It will happen. And it will end. I am not sure if that is a blessing or a curse, but it is true. (And hopefully it will be the last one you ever take).

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