By Ilah Ross
1. It starts with denial, as grief always does. I refuse to acknowledge the fact that I am
sitting at my kitchen table on a sunny Saturday afternoon, hunched over a thick book of
ACT practice tests, pencil in one hand and the other hovering over the stopwatch. I
absolutely and wholeheartedly refuse to be here. In fact, my body and every fiber of my
being rejects this test each time I sit down to take it.
2. Then comes anger. I hate math. I hate this mechanical pencil with the lead that snaps
every thirty seconds because I accidently got 0.5 mm lead instead of 0.75. I hate the
college board for subjecting already mentally-unstable highschoolers to this grueling
standardized testing process. I hate the patriarchy, which has nothing to do with the
practice test in front of me, but I hate it nonetheless.
3. Next, bargaining. Do I really need to reach my target score? Is it really going to make a
difference if I skip one day of studying? If I don’t study today I’ll put in twice the effort
tomorrow, so technically it’s much more effective if I just leave right now.
4. Fourth, and the easiest to dwell on: depression. There is no escaping the fact that I am
sitting here about to take this godforsaken practice test. I find myself stuck on the fourth
stage often, wondering what horrible crime I could have committed in a past life that
brought me here today. Is there hope for the human race if we continue to subject our
young to this madness? I think not.
5. Finally, the stage I never quite seem to make it to: acceptance. I must admit that more
often than not I’ve already left the kitchen table and thrown my ACT book across the
room at this point, but let’s discuss it just for the sake of completing this list which I’m
also coming close to abandoning. After half an hour of internal strife, acceptance settles
over me and I pick up my mechanical pencil.