How I learned to take tests

December 17, 2018

Learning and taking tests are not necessarily the same. Often they are not. I learned to take tests before I learned to learn. Or, rather, I forgot how to learn in the process of learning how to do well in exams, and had to 're-learn learning' - which is my topic for another post.  

 

My family moved a bit when I was in school. I switched schools and was constantly 'assessed' so I could be 'placed at the right level'. When I was tested at 14 I tested very poorly...not surprising as I had moved countries, learning systems, and learning content... but this was not considered. With an unspoken sense of injustice leading me, I became interested in testing better.

 

Testing became a challenge. Testing became the goal. I learned to read exams not as questionnaires on what I knew, and certainly not as opportunities to explore my knowledge, but in order to decipher what they wanted me to demonstrate and how. I learned that most exams tell you what they want you to answer. I learned how to prepare for exams - bits of information I would need to reproduce, how to construct my answer to reflect the question, how to structure my response to get the most points....

 

I learned to test very well. And, yes, there was some learning in this process, but only as an instrument to testing success. In learning to take tests, I did not learn to learn. I did not learn to critically question, to seek deeper solutions, to become a Thinker. Are tests useless? No, they may have a place in a Thinker's learning career, and they assess a variety of skills and knowledge. But tests should never be the goal of education. Deeper, critical thinking is what we seek.