Up spring semester without a paddle

By Julia DeRogatis

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(Amber Prinz / Graphic)

The last few weeks of school are the ultimate test of willpower. (Amber Prinz / Graphic)

By Julia Derogatis | Staff Writer

May 1, 2013

You are stuck in a rickety canoe, aided only by a single wooden paddle as the water surges and the current spins your little craft, dragging you helplessly along towards the sheer 176 foot drop of Niagara Falls. As you near the precipice, you look over the edge and into the abyss below, realizing that it will take great skill and a fair amount of sheer luck to survive.

This is how the last eight weeks of school are.

In April, the downward pull begins with STAR testing. For two weeks, our time reserved for learning is taken up by standardized testing. Hours after hours are passed sitting in silence and staring at instruction guides and problems about ducks. The homework load may be relatively light, but the delay in learning causes a huge backlash when we have to begin cramming for finals a mere two weeks later.

The last quarter of school is made even more daunting by the presence of the feared AP tests, hanging like a dark cloud over the month of May. Although we may have been taking AP classes all year, when the sample tests and essays start getting handed out, it seems as though the whole first semester of knowledge is inconveniently missing from ours minds.

As the test dates approach, the task of studying a whole years worth of information seems more and more overwhelming.

At this point you have lost your little paddle, and the distance between you and the drop is closing at an alarming rate. And then your canoe gets a hole in the form of the Calculus entrance exam and the SAT.

Both are important and highly stressful. Many pre-calc students long to get into City College calculus, and the test decides whether they can make theoretically float or sink in the class.

On top of this, the pressure of the five-hour-long SAT weighs heavily. While grades and application essays are significant in college applications, the SAT can also play a large role. That one test score seems like a final judgment on intelligence, even though it is only based on standard multiple choice questions and an essay that becomes nearly illegible as you race to finish it in the allotted 25 minute time limit.

With the river roaring and doom quickly approaching, finals are also looming in the not so distant future.

After everything we go through in this last stretch of school, we have to prove ourselves one more time with long tests that cover the entire second semester of school. It is a miracle that students still have enough energy to jump up and down when the final bell rings on the last day of school.

It will take some skilled maneuvering and plentiful energy to make it down this torrential fall, yet there is hope because when it is all over and the mist has cleared, the open calm of summer will be waiting.

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