Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of tests.
Not the psychological diagnostic ones, obviously. They made me do those when I was a lot younger. No, I’m talking about tests at school. Maths and history and stuff.
Of course, the first sentence of this post seems to hint that I’m doing these tests out of my own free will. I suppose it is free will, in a way. Except I have been warned multiple times that, by exercising the right of freedom of choice afforded to me, I am simply paving the way for failure, abandonment, social ostracism and a career in balloon-puppet making. I like to call this ‘pseudo-freedom’.
Anyway, I’ve been forced to do all these tests and I don’t mean to blaspheme, but the fact of the matter is this: I think I rather enjoy them.
I realize that by confessing this, I am simply consolidating the already-established nerdiness that I seem to ooze from my very being. Let me attempt to explain before you start to question my sanity (though I suppose it’s too late for that).
Take a history test, for example. Your task is to write an essay on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, there are four types of students:
A. Those who have studied for the test.
B. Those who haven’t studied for the test.
C. Those who think they’ve studied for the test.
D. Those who should not be allowed to give tests because the number of teachers going into early retirement is on the rise.
Let’s not concern ourselves with Type D just yet. According to my observation though, there are fairly standardized phases that the other types go through before and during the test. (I’m omniscient, you know):
Phase 1: Is it time to study yet?
This phase comes well in advance for type A (pun intended). They (or rather, we) create schedules precise to the minute and study as if possessed. And when we can’t stick to our schedules, we start hyperventilating and we throw things at people and our parents hide sharp objects. Or maybe that’s just me.
This phase never comes for type B obviously. They may feel compelled to ask about the test syllabus, but that’s only because of the evil that is called peer pressure.
Type C encounters this phase the night before the test. 10 hours is plenty of time to study. A couple of hours watching television, a couple of hours casually turning pages of the wrong textbook and the rest sleeping with the book by your side. That’s enough revision for one test. Ten hours of studying: How much more can a person possible do?
Phase 2: The hour draws near
As phase 2 begins, type A begins to get increasingly anxious, which is strange because they’re the only group that’s actually prepared. They sharpen their pencils and begin to calculate the probability of going completely blank in that vital hour. They then seek out type C students for comfort.
Type B, meanwhile, is grudgingly looking for a pen to steal.
Type C is definitely the most relaxed. They benevolently take it upon themselves to bestow their infinite knowledge upon the less-fortunate, a.k.a Type A.
Phase 3: It’s time
Type A has begun writing furiously, even before the test question has been assigned. Some type A students, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, may even resort to creating a slightly larger version of a stationery store on the desk before them. In fact, these hoarder tendencies are what type B students feed off. If there’s a type A student, there’s always a pen to steal.
Type C students are the most likely to stare in horror at the paper for a couple of minutes and then ask the teacher if there’s a printing error in the question. If the teacher says ‘no’, type C will nod as if they knew all along, and will then continue to watch the question paper intently for any signs of miraculous life.
Type B students perceive the test as a subsidiary and unnecessary part of their ultimate (life) goal of stealing a pen. The thought of cheating crosses their mind, but the important question is: can they really be bothered?
Phase 4: When it’s all over
After the test, the type A students (who’ve used up two fountain pens and five complete sheets of paper) worry and fret about how bad the test was and how difficult it was to stay within the word limit. At this point, type B students are a comforting presence, especially if they ask questions like, “Are you sure that was a history test? It seemed a lot like geography to me. Cuba and all that.”
Type C students are the most likely to complain about how stupid the question was and how annoying it was that the question was based on the one thing they didn’t study well.
So what do I enjoy about this? The entire process is a bit like an adrenaline rush (Well, it is for people like me who are too scared to sit on a roller-coaster and experience an actual adrenaline rush). Phase 1 is like getting strapped in your seat, phase 2 is the upward climb, phase 3 is the crazily fast descent and phase 4 is like getting sick at the end of the ride. It makes complete sense (if I do say so myself).
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all tests. Maths, for example. That’s simply one loop after the other. For example, I had a maths test today and halfway through I was afflicted with a sudden, temporary bout of number dyslexia. Halfway through I just answered 42 to every question in the vague hope that the Secret to Life, the Universe and Everything would feature somewhere in the test. I just felt like that’s what a Higher Power would want me to do.
So that’s the story of me and tests. It’s long and tedious and now you have enough evidence diagnose me as clinically insane.
Well, on the bright side, it might help me get out of homicide charges someday.