Thursday, March 31, 2011

consider yourself under examination

Remember the test-taking days? The state and AP exams in high school, the college finals, the other tests in between that required jamming information into your mind that you'd promptly forget once the semester or year (or, sometimes, test) was finished? I can still recall the literary terms and Spanish vocabulary, but AP Calculus? 'Tis but a fond wisp of memory.

And let us recall, too, the reactions to the study experience. There were the procrastinators, of course. I mean, I don't think you can write about tests without mentioning procrastination. There were the Emelines, who finished one test and started studying for the next one immediately after, although it was weeks away. (AND LOOK AT HER NOW, folks! A super success!) There was me, studying history and astronomy on the elliptical and memorizing the syllabus for a Spanish literature final, because where else was I going to find a complete list of all the poems we'd read? There were the study sessions of brownies and delirium and hysterical giggles when you pass maximum capacity for knowledge taken in and sleep not taken.

Then we had the test itself. I've always had a number of friends who decried multiple choice. "I'd so much rather write an essay," they'd say.

True confession: My writing self will take multiple choice any day.

  • It's faster.
  • The answer is in front of you.
  • You don't really have to demonstrate a strong grasp on the material if you can at least tell what's not correct.
  • If you know the answer, it goes even faster!
  • How can you forget the satisfaction of darkening the Scantron bubbles with your freshly sharpened number two pencil?
In contrast, the written exam: in World History, our test consisted of half definitions, half essays. By the time I finished writing the definitions, classmates were already handing in the test. They were done. And meanwhile I was still spewing everything I could remember about Iwo Jima, not even on the essay page yet. Hand cramps and sweet times.

In honor of my exam tonight (what? A test after grad school?!), here's to you, rote memorization, good guesses, and a mind that holds all it can!


#91: Chris Young, "Tomorrow"


Anjelica said...

What test?

Flo said...

Do work, son! I miss the simplicity of multiple choice, too. The CHOICES! Now it's arc and characterization and FEELINGS...