Last night, my little sister came at me very panicked because she had a mental block. Tomorrow (today) she has (had) her first national examination (Baccalaureate) at Romanian language and literature. She studied hard for the past months and attended private lessons but still, she was terrified. I asked her why she is anxious because at every previous exam simulations she passed and had decent grades. She told me that she is not afraid that she won’t take it but rather that she will have a bad grade and people would think she is stupid.
I was stunned.
For real. How could someone think that?!
I didn’t explain to her that was not the case because when someone is in an emotional distress having a discussion based on logic and reasoning is not helpful and probably would piss her off. So I suggested she make some tea and sleep.
Now, I’m going to write here what I would said to her last night and hopefully she would have the patience to read it and you will find this useful too.
What standardized test don’t measure
Standardized tests do not measure:
-success in life
-someone’s worth as a human being
Your “life success” depends on your values and goals. It cannot be measured by objective standards, and for sure life is not a checklist to be completed: college checked, husband checked, 3-bedroom apartment checked. Definitely, accomplishment isn’t determined based on how good you are in math (but I do think math is a good tool for shaping the mind and thought process).
Even if you think you are worthless, ask yourself compared to what?
I am worthless compared to botanists, I can’t differentiate between flowers or leaves, they all look nice to me and that’s it. I am worthless compared to someone who is 50 years old and a millionaire. I am worthless because I occupy a bottom place in that hierarchy. Our hierarchies are based on competences and I bet you are amazing at least one thing. Furthermore, I would like to think that someone’s worth is evaluated on things that really make us human, like compassion, responsibility for our being and the community, our inborn drive to explore etc. (a topic for another time)
Standardized tests do not evaluate how intelligent you are. There are 9 types of intelligence and as far as I am concerned only 2 of them are evaluated during the Baccalaureate (mathematical intelligence and linguistic intelligence).
Taking a sidewalk and talking a little about intelligence now. You are naturally more proficient or not in one area or another on the intelligence spectrum but if there is a will, anything can be learned. From my perspective, based on my extensive reading (I can be a nerd sometimes) and encounters with life, success is defined by IQ but also by Emotional Intelligence (mastering and understanding your and other’s emotions, we are emotional beings after all) and Social Intelligence (how you handle and behave in social situations, basically in human interactions, again we are also social animals). sincerely, I have no idea if you can increase your IQ, it is rather more plausible that it can decrease over time, but from my experience you can learn how to handle your emotions and be more emphatic (I’m still a nooby but eager to learn) and you can master social interactions through training (I’m working on this too, practice makes perfect).
What standardized test measure?
Well, they measure your skill on a standard scale, it’s obvious. But it is a universal scale and does not let your uniqueness manifest. Let’s assume you are high in body-kinesthetic intelligence but evaluated based on your linguistic intelligence (where you are not that skilled). In this scenario, it is very possible that you will have a bad grade but it clearly does not mean you are an idiot.
Standardized tests are useful because we need a common reference base. For the same reason, college degrees are relevant. For a stranger, someone that does not know or trust you, they certify you have a certain skill. We need them because they are guarantees for who we are, in a superficial sense,(for example based on my Baccalaureate marks I excel in economy and history but suck at literature), and let others (usually and almost always in academic domains). When you don’t have a reputation, the one who emits the diploma guarantees for you with theirs. Someone may not have faith in you but in the high level of training offered by the University you graduate, for example.
Standardized tests are useful but not absolute.
What others think.
I am biased, I truly am. I don’t take others as my reference base so for some of you my perspective would seem strange.
I always had above the average grades but I wasn’t the best student. I am particularly curious and I do have a good logical thinking which combined with my moderate consciousness makes me quite successful when it comes to formal education. I am not competitive, which also makes me not to care about others` results that much. The only moment I look at others is when they succeed in something at a level that I want to perform too and that inspires me to become better because I know it is possible. I do desire to be encircled by exceptional persons not because I want to be better then them but because I want to be better then who I already am (even if I am content with that) and I do desire to set new standards so I can inspire and encourage others.
What others think is important because you have to interact with them efficiently but you should see yourself independently from your friends and family and dependently to your true nature.
Also, you should start asking yourself some questions if your friends judge you based on a standard scale rather than your unique, individual manifestation.
What do you think about standardized tests?