A Day in the Life of a UILer

A Day in the Life of a UILer

Lindsey Faust, Design Team

What exactly is a UILer and what does one do? Don’t worry, no one’s judging you if you are totally clueless, because you are definitely not alone. Sophomores Ankur Bambhrolia and Patrick Celanto have been competing in UIL for two years, although they also had middle school math team experience beforehand. They now compete in the Social Studies, Current Events, and Science competitions. Now, being a UIL contestant is no piece of cake; practice is necessary for success in this field.

“We have meeting times before school to practice for Science with Mr. Salge,” Patrick said.

In addition, they have “home reading for events like Social Studies,” Ankur said, which is led by Mrs. McLaughlin.

But UIL isn’t just hard work; there are enjoyable parts as well.

When asked their favorite part about UIL, both boys stifled laughter while spouting answers such as “procrastinating” and “doing nothing.” Growing slightly more serious, Patrick said his “favorite parts are the meets themselves; we have fun and I like meeting new people.”

These meets are what all the practice times and home reading lead up to: the congregation of UILers from districts around the area to compete in various academic competitions. The types of tests taken vary, but Ankur and Patrick participate in multiple-choice Science tests, as well as Social Studies and Current Events tests that feature an essay-writing portion. The tests are graded in a similar way to that of the PSAT or SAT: a certain number of points is rewarded for each correct answer but only a fraction of those points are deducted for each question answered incorrectly.

Now if you’ve ever come into contact with a UILer shortly before or after a meet, you have almost certainly heard endless complaints about the waiting. Hours can pass between the starting times of the various events a UILer is registered in, leaving a high school student drowsy from waking up before the sun to be bused to a school they have often never even been to and confined to an unfamiliar cafeteria with minimal means of entertainment. How do they survive?

“I bring my laptop sometimes,” Patrick said, seated at a lunch table adjacent to one topped with a half-completed chess game, an attempt at entertainment deserted by players who had clearly left to attend their next event.

“We play games on Mrs. McLaughlin’s iPad too,” Ankur remarked. As expected, cramming also ensues. “We study right before our events… sometimes.”

But UIL is more than cramming, practicing and waiting; there are always opportunities for fun to present itself. When asked for funny stories, both boys immediately cracked up. Despite Ankur’s protests, Patrick launched into one.

“Our event had been scheduled to the wrong room by accident, so we all had to switch rooms,” Patrick said. “Ankur followed the wrong proctor into a room clearly marked ‘Grading Room’…”

Ankur picked up the story, fighting back laughter. “I said, really loud, ‘Look, Patrick, we’re the only ones here!’ Then I realized that Patrick wasn’t there and the proctor-lady was just standing there pointing to the door like, ‘Out.’ So that was funny.”

The test makers clearly have a sense of humor as well.

“There was a Star Trek-related question on our Current Events test today,” Ankur added.

So next time you see a UILer in the hall, go ahead, give them a little pat on the back. I mean, come on, waking up at ungodly hours to compete in academic competitions and occupying unfamiliar high school lunchrooms all day is not an extracurricular for just anyone.