A Timed Test of Terror

I have always been comfortable with exams and writing in general. However, this all changed when I took the NCDAP, a college placement test. I vividly remember the shaking and trembling of my hands as they beat the keyboard. I remember the heat that suddenly engulfed my body as I stared at the malicious clock. I remember my heart racing faster than I had ever experienced before, and I remember suppressing all these bouts of misfortune in order to avoid concerned glances from others in the room. I remember my first occurrence of what I would come to know to be called a panic attack.

The NCDAP shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it certainly turned out to be just that. The NCDAP was indeed a college placement test. It included a writing and grammar multiple choice portion, a math section, and an essay. Though notoriously difficult, the grammar multiple choice was not what caused me strife. It was the essay that launched my body into a state of enhanced adrenaline levels. However, the essay should have been a walk in the park because every ninth-grade student at the time was taking a class called Grammar and Composition, which was intended to prepare students for the perils of the dreaded essay. I was very good at the essays in that class. We would write about two essays a week in forty minutes each and my teacher would always comment on how good I was at formulating and writing them properly. However, my essays took a lot of time to write.

I scarcely finished my essays in class and I would always take them home and religiously reword and revise them. There always seemed to be a better word or a better phrase that fit somewhere. After writing my first few essays and going through the vicious cycle of revision, I realized I was exhibiting perfectionistic tendencies. It should be noted that ninth grade was the first time I needed to write such large works of writing so frequently, so I was quite surprised at this apparent gift I never knew I had. Of course, I was nowhere near to calling myself a great writer content-wise, but I took some pride in the fact that I could write essays in the correct structure and form required for the NCDAP. Back then, perhaps I took a bit too much pride in my essays and didn’t seem to realize that it was a problem I wasn’t finishing them in class like most students. So naturally, it was bad news for the perfectionist in me when I found out the essay writing time would be strictly limited to sixty minutes.

I didn’t think much of the time limit in the days and weeks before taking the NCDAP, but I probably should have. All my essay’s entries had taken far longer than an hour to write when practicing in Grammar and Composition. This didn’t concern me, but it certainly did when I ended up actually writing the essay. On the day of the test, students would write their essays first and then continue on to the grammar multiple choice as soon as they were finished with the essay. However, when I sat down to take the test, I saw no sign of this supposable time limit that had been stressed to us. Somehow, and in some way, the sixty-minute countdown was nowhere to be seen. If this were any essay, I would have rejoiced in the fact there wasn’t a time limit. But this was the NCDAP. An extremely important exam and something didn’t seem to add up. Why would students be told a time limit and then not be able to see how much time they had left? Would we get deducted points if we turned it in late? Would the program shut off and turn in a half-finished essay? These were the kinds of questions that raced through my mind as the fight or flight response began to take control of rationality.

At first, I wasn’t worried about the time limit, but as I noticed less typing and more clicking around the room, I began to get very worried that I wouldn’t finish in time. I knew that while a vast majority of my fellow students were finishing up with their essays and were moving on to the multiple choice portion, I had barely gotten through half the essay. My working pace slowed exponentially as I could barely think and much less type because of the intrusive thoughts and shaking hands. Eventually, I knew I was the last one working and I was sure an hour had passed, yet there I sat still working on my essay. I took some time to gain a little control of the adrenaline and I began I writing as fast as I could fearing the program would shut off any second. As soon as I was finished, I turned the work in without a moment’s hesitation. I suddenly felt awful as the perfectionist in me berated my work. I figured the essay was one of my worst assignments ever completed and I knew for a fact that I was going to score very low. I finished the multiple choice portion feeling defeated and angry. I was mad that there was no visible time limit. I was angry that I had taken so long to complete the essay, and most of all, I was mad that I had allowed something so irrelevant in life to take control of my body.

When the results came in, I was astonished to learn that my score was average when compared to the rest of our school. My friends and seemingly the rest of ninth grade all had very similar scores that fell around the upper middle of the scoring spectrum. I had a hard time believing that I had done so well. From that point on, my perfectionist tendencies seemed to begin lessening. I minimized excessive revision of my writing and began feeling more confident with my work. After my awful experience during the NCDAP, I realized that constantly worrying about my writing and expecting results every time was not healthy and simply irrational. Early College is a world away from middle school in terms of academics and unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way. Moreover, I realized that nobody expects one’s work to be perfect, as perfection is impossible.

Here is my rough draft for my literacy narrative.

I Really Like Japanese Food

When asked where I would like to go out to eat, 90 percent of the time, my mind races to the prospect of Japanese food. Japanese food encompasses a large genre of food items including soups, entrees, and desserts which have originated from Japan. Examples range from most the notable sushi, ramen, tempura, and the popular hibachi Americanized dishes, to the more unknown meals such as yakitori, sashimi, natto, or sukiyaki. Unfortunately, I cannot choose Japanese food every time I go out to eat, but maybe that just preserves the sanctity of the food.

Japanese food contains an exquisite group of flavors such as the popular hibachi and teriyaki flavors that are unlike any other food group. This factor only helps bolster its prominence as a preferred food option for me and millions of other Japanese food lovers across the world. Its extensive use of rice compliments almost every dish and serves as a perfect companion to your mixed vegetables or shrimp. Moreover, sushi holds a special place in my list of most enjoyable foods. While not particularly filling, sushi shines best when considering the vast amount of flavors that sushi can pack in a small portion of a roll. There are hundreds of different sauces to complement your choice of fish and all options can be allied with a thin slice of pink or white pickled ginger root and a touch of wasabi. My personal favorite is the unagi maki roll which contains the perfect combination of eel and cucumber. No matter what Japanese food dish you decide to indulge yourself with, you are sure to be met with a mouth full of exquisiteness from the worlds best, and my personal favorite, food group.