Young writers: Do your homework — Or compare SATs with Mr. Sizzles

 In Ned's Column

school-exam copy Given the popularity of Young Adult fiction, some of which is being read by actual young adults interested in venting writing about their own romantic encounters relationships fantasies as published authors, I thought we could take a brief departure this week from the nuts and bolts of writing to address an important topic specifically aimed at the aspiring school-aged novelist.

I’m talking, of course, about facing the difficult decision of how much your main character should resemble a member of One Direction.

OK, now that I have your attention — and assuming most of the first two paragraphs were skipped until the words “One Direction” — we will now get to the real point of this column.

At some point, every high school senior who plans to attend a four-year college will sit in a room with dozens of other nervous seniors and be handed a 300-pound Scholastic Aptitude Test. Shortly thereafter, each student will open the exam to page one and choose between a) continuing on with the test, or b) sticking a No. 2 pencil in their eye. That’s because they’ll be answering questions they wouldn’t otherwise face without a chance to win $1 million.

The reason it’s important to do well on the SATs is because your score tells colleges how smart you are. The smarter you are, the better your chances of getting into a prestigious university literature program because, let’s face it: The last thing any university wants is a bunch of dumb students who need to be educated, even if they are paying $40,000 a year toward a degree which, in many cases, still won’t provide them with their most valuable document — a food handler’s card.

Being a writer, I’ve naturally spent many rewarding years in the food service industry. And I can tell you that SAT scores don’t matter when you’re working the late shift at Denny’s next to a sweaty, one-eyed fry cook whose nickname is “Mr. Sizzles.”

What matters is learning to stay away from his blind side whenever someone orders the Fried Platter.

But I digress.

Like it or not, you need to have a good SAT score if you want any chance of getting into college and experiencing that crowning moment when, surrounded by family and friends, you suddenly realize you’re in a commercial for the new Girls Gone Wild! video.

Therefore, as a service to students, I’d like to provide some useful tips on how to prepare for the SATs. This information is based on my own experience when, as a high school senior, I was tested regularly for a period of 90 days following a trip to Tijuana, Mexico.

To begin with, page two of your SAT handbook clearly states that anyone caught cheating will automatically be expelled and the action duly noted on their student record. Naturally, this will be a huge disadvantage for anyone applying to anything other than Electoral College. My suggestion, as you might’ve guessed, would be to avoid this situation entirely by making sure you go into your exam FULLY PREPARED to rip page two right out of your handbook.

Ha Ha! Just kidding! That would be irresponsible of me!

It’s actually on page four.

Okay, seriously — cheating is bad. And, unless you have a very good press secretary, you’re going to get caught. This means you’ll have to study.

Studying, as you know, requires organization and a willingness to sacrifice time you would otherwise spend doing something more exciting.

Such as lancing your own boil.

My point being that no one ever said it would be easy. However, I can promise you that the harder you work at it, the more gratifying it will be once people have stopped staring at the side of your neck.

Especially during the SATs.

That said, I wish you the best on your exam.

And so does “Mr. Sizzles.”

Next week: Do you feel a draft? The importance of manuscript revisions.

Ned Hickson
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