Though you might not be in the mood to blast an amazing playlist with the windows down on the way to the SAT or ACT, I believe music has the potential to aid any situation—pre, mid, and post testing included. Even the worst events deserve a solid playlist to go along with, and so I present to you, in chronological order, your official standardized testing playlist! (Or if you want to think of it in different terms, the soundtrack to your standardized testing day.)
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
You just woke up, showered, (maybe) and are pouring some Cheerios into a bowl when this song comes on. Panic has yet to set in, and you’re feeling confident—so confident that everything Jack White sings is a direct illustration of what’s fluttering through your subconscious. A seven nation army couldn’t hold you back.
The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance – Vampire Weekend
But you spoke too soon. Gathering your number two pencils, calculator, and extra batteries has made things way too real. You’re hit in the face with the fact that you will spend the next several hours in a testing room on which your future college potential relies. It’s too much, and Ezra taunts you, crooning into your ear what little chance you stand against the competition.
The Funeral – Band of Horses
You’ve decided it’s all hopeless by the time you climb into your car. At every occasion I’ll be ready for a funeral— including the occasion that is taking this standardized test. You probably won’t make it out of the room, but it’s perfectly fine because you’ve come to terms with it. There’s beauty in destruction, is there not?
Float On – Modest Mouse
Pulling into the parking lot of your testing center, sanity has returned as you overcome the mild panic attack. You do stand a chance and you’re hopefully not going to die anytime in the next six hours, so you let Modest Mouse ease you back into clarity with their ever-hopeful hit Float On. 400 or 2400, it’s all going to be alright.
Help! – The Beatles
The first section was trickier than you thought and the only suitable song at this moment in time is this ever-popular Beatles tune. You need somebody right now—and calculator Jesus is not cutting it.
Knife – Grizzly Bear
Can’t you feel the knife? It’s digging into your back right now—stuck in there by Brutus himself (or should we say the College Board, your lack in contemplative ability, and broken pencil collectively?). Grizzly Bear feels your pain, and so do over half of the other students in the room right now. At least it was a sanitized blade.
Go Outside – Cults
The sunlight is making its way into the room, bleeding through the blinds and finding cracks in the shade. It’s literally beautiful outside—eighty degrees, slight breeze, the works. Alas, you are stuck inside with a myriad of multiple choice questions confronting you. However badly you want it, outside is not an option right now.
Give Me Just a Little More Time – Chairmen of the Board
Literally, the title says it all. You swear you’re on the verge of cracking the last math question when the instructor calls time, and barely catch yourself as you nearly scream at him to demand three more minutes. But let’s face it— you weren’t getting that question right anyway.
Where Is My Mind? – Pixies
It’s mush now; defeated. You can’t think anymore and you have no desire to try either. The only question you deem worth asking yourself, and attempting to provide an answer to, is the one asked by Pixies.
Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
And finally you have reached the conclusion. This is the final section, and you can actually taste the freedom. It isn’t quite here yet, but you see it on the horizon. Sit back and watch it rise—you’ve earned it.
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
The sun hits you as you leave the building and all psychological hell breaks loose—an impossible combination of fear, relief, ecstasy, and what on earth just happened? Your legs start jittering and your eyes begin to twitch. This is Violent Femmes.
Let’s Dance to Joy Division – The Wombats
“And celebrate the irony that everything is going wrong, but we’re so happy.” Maybe you killed it, maybe it killed you – either way, being done with it is cause for a celebration in itself. Things don’t need to be perfect in order to celebrate life and be happy. This is the perfect song for that – post-test, driving to lunch, and life is good.
5 Years Time – Noah & the Whale
Another self-explanatory happy song to celebrate the future. Cheers.
Stay Free – The Clash
To end the soundtrack, we have what I believe should be everyone’s go-to high school remembrance song. It’s a track about friends, being too cool for yourself, staying free and treading lightly in the face of a mundane and ordered world. Never forget this song, as it can carry you through the doldrums any day of the week.