In school, I was always a good test taker. I remember once reading somewhere that the educational system was designed to make more teachers. The students that did the best in school were best fit to become teachers. I don’t think that’s entirely true, but it worked out for me.
Unless you’re weird (like me) or are being groomed to become a teacher (also like me?), you probably don’t like tests. But they are inevitable. And if you are not a student, you might be thinking, “Ha! I’m done with school! I’m done with tests!” Yeah, okay. School is essentially a microcosm of real life. And with real life come tests. Since they are inevitable, we might as well determine what we will need to take on the tests and take them on with confidence.
1. Expect a test.
In the Classroom
Here is a glimpse of my life:
- Me: “Okay, class, please clear your desks except for a cover sheet and a writing utensil.”
- Student-who-shall-remain-nameless: “Do we have a quiz?!??!?”
- Me: “No, Student-who-shall-remain-nameless. We have a test.”
- Student-who-shall-remain-nameless: “Why didn’t you tell us?!!!??”
- Me: Glances at weekly homework board where TEST is written. Recalls daily reminders about the test over the last two weeks…. Continues on and pretends the student never asked.
Each day that you are sitting in a classroom, you should know that a test is inevitable. Cramming the night (or moments) before a test is not very helpful, especially if you haven’t put in the work beforehand. You should also know that tests are not a means of torture (at least not normally). Tests are a way of determining whether you have learned what the teacher believes you need to know.
As much as we would love for life to be all rainbows and butterflies and cheesecake that doesn’t stick to your thighs, that is not reality. If your life is all sunshine and unicorns, you might not be doing anything worthwhile. I’m not saying you need to be miserable, but you do need to face adversity. You need tests. Tests sharpen your skills. Tests reveal weaknesses so that you can become stronger. Tests are essential to your growth. With that in mind, you can take on tests joyfully. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptation;” not if you do, but when you do. A test is coming, and what you do with that knowledge will determine what results the test will produce.
2. Know that you cannot choose your test.
In the Classroom
The day has arrived. It is time to test over pronouns. I have taught types of pronouns, cases of pronouns, pronoun agreement, pronoun reference, and every other pronouny concepts. Now I will find out if my students have learned. They come in, clear their desks (ask if there’s a test), and wait to receive their tests with anticipation. Then a student (who shall remain nameless, of course) raises his hand and says, “Miss Premo, I’m not really feeling this whole pronoun thingy, but I was reeeeeeally good at verbs. Could I take a verb test instead?”
This has never happened to me. Because it’s absurd. You can’t pick and choose what tests you take. There are different types of tests to reveal different areas of weakness. Tests cover different material because there’s a lot to learn. If you did well on the last test, great! But that’s not enough to help you pass the next test because the next test is over new material. If that material is hard, good! Work harder to comprehend it. That hard work will give you a deeper understanding of the concepts, and you’ll be prepared to pass the next test.
Just as no student chooses what test he takes in the classroom, no person chooses what adversity he will face in life. There have been times when I have asked God if I could have a different test. For example, and I am ashamed to admit this, but I have wondered if I could fight some sort of sickness better than how I currently handle singleness—not because singleness is particularly hard for me, but because of how others treat my singleness. I have wondered if I would be respected more for gracefully facing a life-threatening disease than for simply living out God’s plan for my life.
Graciously dealing with comments people make and ideals people can’t seem to break is just one type of test. And I know it’s not very difficult compared to deep trials and tests of faith that others face. But everyone faces different tests at different times for different reasons. James 1:3-4 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” This passage doesn’t mean that tests will make you flawless, but rather, tests will make you a more complete person. They will ensure that you are equipped with the skills that you need to live successfully. God knows exactly what you and I need to accomplish His will and enjoy the abundant life. His plan for me is different than His plan for you; so He is going to give us different tests for our good and His glory. With this perspective, we truly can “count it all joy” when facing our tests.
3. Prepare for the test.
In the Classroom
All reasonable teachers give tests over material they have either assigned, provided, and/or covered. Your teachers want you to succeed, and they know what’s on the test, but they (most likely) are not going to simply hand you a copy of the test. They are going to prepare you. They are going to give you the tools, but you are going to have to use the tools.
First, listen to your teacher. Listen for teachers to say phrases such as “You’ll need to know this…” or “Let me repeat that…” or “Make sure you write this down…” or “Mark this in your books…” or, most obviously, “This is on the test.” These phrases are verbal cues to prepare you for later testing.
Second, read the material your teacher has provided. If you have a textbook, pre-read what your teacher will be covering so you can better engage in the class, and then review the textbook again after the lecture to be sure you understood the key concepts.
Third, do the assigned work, and do it well. Assignments provide roots that reinforce the concepts your teacher believes you need to know. If you neglect the assignments entirely or only accomplish them partially, your understanding of key concepts will remain shallow.
Finally, talk to the teacher. If you don’t understand the material, talk to the teacher. If you missed a question on the assignment, talk to the teacher. If the reading material is confusing, talk to the teacher. If you want to know what material the test will cover, talk to the teacher. The teacher wants you to be as prepared as possible to pass the test!
As said before, God wants you to succeed. He wants you to live an awesome life. Because of that, He knows exactly what tests you must face to prepare you for all that He has in store.
First, listen for God’s voice. Most of the time He is speaking to us in a still, small voice. If we allow the boisterous ideas of society to drown Him out, we are going to miss out on what He is telling us we need to ready us for the next test.
Second, read His Word. The Bible is our textbook on life. It gives guidance to the lost, comfort to the broken, peace to the troubled, hope to the despairing, love to the abandoned, and salvation to the doomed. Everything you could possibly need to face the next test can be found in His Word.
Third, continue His work. Don’t just sit there and wait for the next test to come. Keep serving, keep loving, keep giving. As you continue to do these things, He uses them to deepen our faith so that we are better prepared to take on the next test we will face.
Finally, talk to the Teacher. You don’t know everything. You need His wisdom, and He wants to share it with you! James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” What a promise! Not only will He give you wisdom, but He won’t hold back. All you have to do is ask.
All this to say…
Whether you are a student or not, tests are inevitable and you cannot choose your tests. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The good news is that in life, you have a perfect Teacher that promises He will provide everything you need to pass your test. (And hopefully your classroom teachers will do the same.)