On taking tests

In a few weeks, I will be taking a written test for the first time in six years. I suppose it’s slightly less if you count the written test at the DMV for getting a motorcycle license, but that hardly seems comparable. It’s a strange state to return to. For so long my life was punctuated by regular and significant testing and it was something I was good at. In fact, it could be said that it was what I was best at. Both in high school and college my work in a class was acceptable, but my ability to sit down with a test, particularly a standardized test, and see through it was really what distinguished me academically. In college, with midterms and finals, tests came regularly and rigorously. With the first couple of years of medical school, that pace quickened. But now… I took a handful of classes at the start of graduate school, all with take home exams or final papers, and aside from oral exams haven’t been tested, haven’t been stood up and measured in any focussed or critical way.

It’s scary. It’s scary to go back now to testing and to that sense of urgency and inevitability and anxiety. And yet, it’s also somewhat comforting to know that I will be measured again, and not arbitrarily, that I will be on a track of finite length, and that the end will always be in sight.

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