Sarah wondered why people called them butterflies; they felt more like bunny rabbits to her. Butterflies are small, delicate and flutter lightly, but her stomach felt like someone was jumping on a trampoline in there.
She ate her cereal very slowly in the faint hope of somehow delaying the inevitable. Crunch. Munch. Crunch. It didn’t seem to make anything slower. The big hand kept swinging steadily closer to 9oclock. Sara kept her eye on it warily until she felt something cold hit her skirt. She’d spilt her cereal. Great, now she’d have to change, today of all days was no time to be in a rush.
Sarah had never had such a big test before; it was going to take a whole half hour! Her teacher said it was a mock SAT and they were going to have to do lots of them this year. Sarah dreaded it, she hated tests. No matter how hard she studied, she always seemed to go blank at the last moment. This time she really wanted to do well and make her parents proud. Libby, her older sister, had aced all her exams, she had never even gotten less than 9 out of 10 in her reception spelling tests. She was so nervous.
Tick, tock, tick, tock – beep!
Daddy was outside and it was time to go to school. Mummy gave her a hug as Sarah walked out the door, and whispered in her ear “you’ll be amazing. Just try your best.”
All through davening, Sarah could not concentrate, she wanted the test to start already. On the other hand, the longer she could push it off the better; she wasn’t sure what was worse-the woeful wait or the torturous test.
Finally Mrs Issacson gave out the papers, and the bunny rabbits in Sarah’s stomach started doing summersaults. The test started with spellings. The teacher read out the words, but although Sarah had spent so long learning them, she began to get confused. She wrote down a word. Then she crossed it out. Then she thought maybe her first attempt was correct. Sarah stared hard at the paper and chewed her pencil but the teacher had already moved on! Now she was behind and she didn’t know what number they were up to…
The rest of the test did not go very well, and Sarah was almost in tears. She’d failed. Now the teacher would be disappointed with her, and her parents. She bet Libby never failed a test, she’d probably gotten full marks on her first SAT paper.
The next day Sarah’s teacher handed each girl her paper back. Was it her imagination or did Mrs Isacson frown slightly as she handed Sarah hers? The bunny rabbits were back. When she saw her mark, tears spilled down her cheeks as she thought of what her parents would say.
At mummy’s welcoming smile at the door, Sarah burst into tears and ran upstairs. She heard Mummy walk in and pick up her paper from where she’d flung it on the floor. Sarah held her breath. Mummy leaned over. “Sarah sweetie, why are you crying?”
Sarah sat up and pointed to her paper “my mark.”
“Sweetie, what did I tell you about the test? All you need to do is try your best. It doesn’t matter if you got confused or forgot the answers during the test. I know you studied and tried really hard, and that’s the main thing.
You know what?”
Sarah sniffed “what?”
“You get an A for effort!”
Sarah grinned, wondering if Libby had ever gotten an A for effort, but then looking at her mother’s face she realised it didn’t matter what Shuli got. It didn’t even matter what she got-she’d tried and that is the best mark!