Sometimes, as Kareem Elgendi stared down a tough SAT question, a tendril of anxiety wound its way into his head.
If I don't get the score I need, will I be able to pay for college?
He had lugged home SAT books his sophomore year at Blake High School, already practicing, hoping to win Florida's Bright Futures scholarship.
With a score of 1290, he would qualify for Bright Futures' top tier, securing about $3,090 a year — a big dent in the $6,000 tuition and fees that Florida's public universities charge on average. He took the SAT once, twice, three times, with mounting fear.
Finally getting that score, he said, "was the best feeling ever."