Tests Are a Way to Gauge Your Competition

Okay, admit it. You really don’t like taking tests. Who does?

But if you aimed to be an Olympic athlete and you wanted to score the lowest time for running a marathon, would you not first look up exactly what the lowest time for running a marathon was? You would need that information to develop your training plan and measure your outcomes by timing every race you ran. You would do that to ‘get a leg-up’ on the competition.

Well, that’s what standardized testing will do for you as you become more aware of the fierce competition that’s out there for college admissions and almost every available job.

If you were a hiring manager and had to decide between two candidates who came out of a series of job interviews conducted by a series of managers and were rated absolutely equal in all categories, but one scored higher on your company employment test than the other, you would hire the individual who scored highest on that test. In fact, you would be required by law to hire that person, if indeed all other factors were equal. There would be no legal justification for taking the lower-scoring individual. If you did, the higher scoring individual would have the basis for a lawsuit.

So, tests are now, and always will be, a hurdle between you and the degree, the industry credential, or the job you may want. Tests in the workplace can range from a question and answer exercises to a hands-on demonstration of a particular skill. While some tests may be inaccurate from certain perspectives, they produce quantifiable data that employers use to make hiring decisions.

You probably don’t like taking the tests your teachers give you. You probably HATE the standardized tests that the State demands you take once every few years or the exit exams that prove you have earned a high school diploma. You hate the fact that those tests sometimes take several days out of your life preparing for and taking them. And more than anything, you hate the stress you feel when you have to take those tests.

Unfortunately, we have to be blunt. Get used to it. Testing is a part of learning. Testing is a part of life. As an adult, you will have to take a test to get every job – and probably every promotion – you want.

The tests you take while in K-12 schools make sure that you, and your parents, know what you have learned and what you still need to learn. State test results provide your teachers with the information they need to help you learn what you don’t know. With test results in hand, teachers can develop personalized remedial programs to help you catch up in English, Mathematics, or Science, as appropriate. These are the very subjects you will need to build your career around, so use the data you get from the tests you take to your best advantage.

Additionally, tests of all kinds help you learn how to take tests … and you will have to take tests all your working life for lots of different reasons and in almost every career. You will need to take tests to get into college. You will need to take tests to secure employment. You may need to take a test to get promoted. You may need to take an annual or biannual test to maintain a career credential, in real estate or for a nursing license. You will be taking tests until the day you retire.

Employers test just about everyone, and usually the questions on employment tests are very like the questions on standardized tests. In fact, most employers use English and Mathematics tests to determine who is competent to do a job even if that job doesn’t necessarily directly involve English or Math skills.

You can’t escape testing. If we ever have a colony on Mars, you’ll probably be tested there, too.

But we have another perspective for you.

And tests are the only way government leaders can know for sure if every child in the state is getting the same chance at a good education, which, by the way, is guaranteed them by law. When states adopted their constitutions, they established education as a right that every single child has in equal measure. The only way they can determine if everyone is learning what they should in every school in the state is to give every student in every school the same test. Government leaders can then pinpoint deficiencies in educational delivery and implement practices in those areas that will improve student outcomes.

Think of taking state tests as doing your part to ensure fairness of opportunity for all.

And think of your test results as preliminary feedback for you to decide if you have the skills you need to be employable some day.