Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stressed and Scared

High school used to feel so far away. It used to be something my family, friends, and I refered to as 'something in the future.' Sometimes, my dad will take out an old shirt and say I'll be able to wear it when I'm in high school. (Btw, it's less than a year away and they still look big on me...xD) Something that felt so unreal is finally coming near. It felt like not long ago me and my buddy since first grade were graduating from elementary school. Of course, the new school year is still a pretty large amount of time from now. I'm still in my first month of school. Preparation though is always good, especially in my case, and all the brighter students who go to my school. Prepare for what you may ask? Applying for Thomas Jefferson High School. No, you most definitely don't have to 'apply' to get into high school where I live. Thomas Jefferson High School (which I'll just refer to as TJ from now on), is one of the top public high schools (twice ranked #1)in the US specializing in Science and Technology. Acceptance into the school is based on admission tests and previous academic achievement. The whole application process takes about 5 months.

The Test

One out of two main things people will be looking at for applications is how well they do on the TJ Admission Test. The following paragraph is an excerpt from my TJ information booklet: "The test contains 95 test items- 45 verbal reasoning/reading and 50 math questions. Verbal questions include scrambled paragraphs, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension. The math items include word and computational problems. The math items include some algebra and geometry questions related to material covered in fifth through seventh grade mathematics." A sample test is on the school's admission website, and I've looked through it briefly today. Very briefly in fact, since I didn't have time as I had to finish my homework. I've looked at a couple questions from each section. While the questions on the sample test made me reread and think a lot, I found the questions to be alright. Challenging yes, and they require careful and thorough thinking. Ridiculously hard? No. The test is one of my main worries for how hard it supposedly is. After looking through though, some of my stress about it is relieved. Thanks to the sample test though. It gives me an idea of what it is like, and what I should study and practice.

Reading, although not my best subject, has always been an 'okay' thing for me. I find I have much more interest and ability in writing though. For the most part, I'm pretty good at reading skills. My scores for reading exams have never been the best, but they are still passed advanced. My logic is pretty good as well (I'm a realist) which can help guide me through the logical reasoning part.

I guess I'm mostly worried about the math part. Though it used to be my best subject, I struggled with it in the 6th grade. We learned at a fast pace, since we had to learn 2 years (7th and 8th grade math) worth of math in one school year. The teacher's grading scale was particularly hard that year as well, making a huge impact on my final grade. While I used to be able to sustain all A's before, that year's math made me drop to AB. The final grade I got that year was a B. Since finishing 6th grade though, my math has gone back to being good. It's no longer my best subject, but I still handle well. Going into algebra this year though does make me worried. It can still challenge and confuse me sometimes. I hope I'll do well on the algebra and geometry questions! Better make sure I study up!

Essays - Writing Sample

"Students also write two one-page essays at the time of testing in December. One essay focuses on real-world problem solving, often with an ethical component. The other essay requires self-assessment or self-reflection by the applicant."

Shouldn't be a problem. Like I said, my interest and ability lies mostly in writing. The writing prompt is the only exam I ever managed to get a perfect score on (though I'm not sure how to this day).

Academic Achievement

The problem here is that they're mostly looking at the grades of our 7th grade year and the first two quarters of our 8th grade year. I managed to get all A's for two quarters of the 7th grade (equalling a semester) but got slightly off and into AB when receiving one B+ each time.

I've always been considered 'academically talented' by teachers, and got very good grades in elementary. Although my grades in middle weren't as high as they could've been, they were still much above average. I hope that the academic achievement part of my application will look good enough for such a school!

Why I Want to Go to TJ

It's always been hard to get into a good college/university. With the economy crisis and increases in money exchange, it's become even harder. A good college application is key to getting into a good college. It can lead you to be accepted, maybe even on a scholarship if you're particularly good at something. There is nothing I'm extremely good at, for I'm mostly just book smart. Good academics and grades is mostly all I can rely on at this point to help get me into a good university. I know that for me to go to TJ will look very impressive on a college application. After a lot of thinking, I've come to the conclusion (tell me if you think something else) that getting A's and B's at a top and prestigious, advanced high school is better than getting all A's in a regular high school.

The Admission Process

I've always thought that I'd have the a majority of the school year to prepare for this. After receiving the info booklet today though, I've realized I was wrong. My application form (which is simply asking for your name and basic information) is due in a couple weeks. I'll be taking the test and essay on December 5. January 2010 determines the semifinalists. Test scores and grade point average are used to determine which students will continue on with the admission process. We'll be notified at the end of January to find out whether or not we make it on. When February 2010 comes and you've made it into the semifinals, we need to obtain teacher recommendations and complete another application form. March comes the selection committee review. That is when the selection committee members evaluate our application packets. Notifications for the final decision on who will be offered admission release 2010. What a long process...if you make it to the next round, you could be eliminated at anytime! Think positive...


About 480 students are offered admission to the freshmen class a year. 18% of applicants actually make it in. An average 7 students who apply make it in.

Last Thoughts

The next few months will require all my attention, effort, and focus. I'll need to prepare myself and do everything I can so that I can do the best on the test and essay. After that, mostly all I will be able to do is get good word of mouth from my teachers with those recommendations. In order words, I'll be pretty busy for the next few months. Sorry, TVB Interaction. :(

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