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The Story of ANOTHER placement test (Essay for the Common Application)


Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others

"Another one? Really?!?"


I was getting increasingly fed up with the Irvine Unified School District. I could understand when they declined to accept the fact that I had already taken pre-algebra in the 'inferior' Tennessean school system, and wanted to test me on my mathematics knowledge, but after going through testing to prove I was fluent in english, the news of a second math test was not welcome, especially since it was apparently for the same reason as the last one.

However, when I walked into the front office, I could immediately sense that something was amiss. The worker in the front was still kind, but there were subtle differences in the way they treated me, making sure I reset my calculator, taking my backpack out of the testing room, even putting me in a different room into which they could easily see into all of the time I was taking the test. They even decided that this time, I could not go to the bathroom for the entire hour and a half that the test was supposed to take.

Suspecting that they thought I had cheated earlier, I looked at the paper in front of me, and my suspicions were confirmed. The test was almost an exact copy of the one that had taken me less than forty minutes a few weeks earlier, but with the questions tweaked. I resolved myself to finishing this version even faster, and pushed through the icy stares from the other side of the window in the door to do just that.

As I opened the door with a finished test to three surprised faces, it dawned on me that if I was going to convince people of my qualities, I would have to work harder than I may be willing to.

This was not the only hurdle in the transition between Tennessee and California, but I am glad that i learned this lesson beforehand, as It has proven indispensable throughout my years in high school.

Aug 11, 2017   #2
Peter, could you just summarize the story about the test? It became the focal point of the essay that you wrote when the prompt requirement was for you to discuss how the event helped you to learn something new about yourself. Say, for example, how the constant doubt and testing developed a sense of resiliency and resolve in you when it comes to the way that other people view you. The way that you come across in the essay is not very nice. You sound like you want to "stick it to the man" during more than one instance in the essay. As a person who is writing this essay for a person in authority in a different university, that may not bode well for your application. You need to come across as kind, understanding, willing to compromise. Not irritated and angry at the persons in authority. Tone down the character that you are presenting in this essay. I am not saying you have to be submissive or meek, just cordial and considerate to a certain degree. That way the story develops in a manner that portrays the incidents as being an asset to you in terms of character development.


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