November 13, 2003 (Ira Pilgrim)
Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.
C.C. Colton, 1820
Almost everyone is subjected to tests. When a man and woman find themselves in bed together for the first time, both are usually being tested. The strange part about that test is that neither knows what is being tested. For the male, being aware of the fact that he is being tested can sometimes insure that he flunks. A perceptive woman may be aware of this and will not pass judgment too quickly.
When two people meet for the first time, odds are that both are being tested.
When someone applies for a job, he is being tested, and for the first few months on the job, he can be pretty sure that he is being watched carefully.
Some tests can be straight forward. If someone applies for a job as a cabinet maker, the test will usually consist of "Show me your work." or "Let's see what you can do." That same kind of test is used for a writer, a technician of any kind, computer programmer, mechanic and for just about any trade. By the end of the first (or last) year, an employer has a good idea what a new employee is worth.
When someone wants to get into a university or a professional school, he is usually tested. Why is he being tested? The usually reason is that many schools have a limited number of places and they want the best candidates for those places. Another way of doing it, say, for a medical school, would be to admit everyone and then flunk out 3/4 of the class after the first year. Not only would such a procedure be wasteful, but it would also be cruel. Since the student pays for it, it would also border on larceny. Furthermore, everyone who is knowledgeable in such matters knows that a student's performance in the first year of medical school is no indication of how he will perform in his profession.
So-called "Intelligence tests" don't necessarily test smarts, but they are some indication. A high IQ will get you a membership in the Mensa society. That will get you absolutely nothing except the opportunity to socialize with other people with high IQs, many of whom will be, in many other respects, fools or bores.
From first grade on, a student is tested, and tested, and tested, until test-taking becomes something that you simply accept as a fact of life, like death and taxes. A person may not like it, but if he doesn't accept it, it is like pissing into the wind.
The ultimate, and the only valid test, is what a person does with his life. However, that test in not graded and in the end, whether you do very well or very poorly, you die.
Return to the Education Home Page
Return to Ira's Home Page