Monday, November 10, 2008

How to pass any test.....

I know what some of you are thinking...."I'm out of school. I don't have any tests to pass." Wrong. Life is full of tests (I'll call them 'trials' for my Christian readers, for others, they will be, well....'tests').

Of course this is just my strategy, but I can tell you that it's worked me in school and in life. Here's the first key to passing any test: anticipate the question. Easy, right? I can be, but often times it requires a lot of work. For example, if I were in school (and who knows, I may go back someday), and I had an exam coming up, instead of reading and memorizing definitions and text, I will read a portion of the text and make up questions as I go; questions I believe the proctor could give. In my head, they will be true or false questions, but knowing the simple answer is not enough. I'll need to know why. If I make up the question and the answer is 'true', I'll think of ways to re-word the question until it's 'false'.

Now for the harder part: the kind of questions to make. As mentioned, they should be questions that you believe the proctor will ask. Sometimes you'll need to see a test first. This may mean that you could fail the first one as you're 'getting to know' your teacher. At most, it should take two test before you start understanding what your proctor wants you to know. So next time you take a test, instead of just sweating and answering questions, you should be learning the teacher's language. Sun Tzu (The Art of War) would call this "knowing your enemy." (not implying that teachers are enemies - well, not all of them)

The hardest part: do not ask yourself the questions for which you already know the answers. In short, know your weaknesses and anticipate all the questions geared toward those weaknesses. At a minimum, you should be a little more mentally tough and prepared for the upcoming test.

This is easy enough when applying to school and dealing with teachers. The tricky part is working through real life situations. For me, one my major weaknesses is my inability to admit that I have weaknesses. Therefore, I always prepare as though my weaknesses will be exposed. I think this drives me to be a little more competitive than most. If I win, a lot of my weaknesses remained concealed. If I lose, my weaknesses are exposed. So I practice, and practice, and anticipate until my weakness is a strength (another Sun Tzu philosophy).

For those of you who know me, you know that I would much rather not lose than win. Fine line, I know, but this is my weakness. I've gotten a little better over the years, in part because one of my strengths has become my ability to filter out others' perception of me. This may come off sounding like I don't care what other think, which is false. I do care, but I always consider carefully the source and credibility of criticism. I wouldn't let a three-time convicted felon give me ethical advice - an extreme example, but you get my point. Therefore, most of you should not listen to any 'social' advice from me since, for the most part, I'm emotionally withdrawn; other's feeling do not impact me as much as they impact you. This would explain why I'm unusually blunt.

For those of you who know Meg, you know her weakness is her inability to let go of things she cannot control. She is a control freak. For the record, this is not a bad thing, she is extremely organized, punctual, and self-motivated - all byproducts of a controlling personality. So her life tests usually revolve around realizing there are some things she simply cannot control. Some days she accepts this, other days she struggles. But she will attest that her tests are designed around control and who really has it.

In short, know your weaknesses, design the questions around your weaknesses, and anticipate the teacher's questions by learning their language. You are now my kind of test taker.

2 comments:

Brandi said...

Congrats to the new dad! Start saving your money because if that baby is a girl, you are in trouble. And start listening to Miley Cyrus now, just to get used to it.

Casey said...

You should go back to school. Contractions are not allowed, they are too informal.