mercredi, octobre 26, 2005

my brain's gone walkabout

Elizabeth's post on standardized testing struck a chord with me.

I was one of those brats who scored off-the-charts back in the day. My punishment for gloating then is being a mediocre standardized test-taker as an adult, as evidenced by my GRE and GMAT scores.

When I was a little girl, I loved tests. In particular, I loved standardized tests. Every year, the school would administer sheet upon scantron sheet of tests. I would fill in the bubbles and then a month or so later, they would share the results with my mom. I'd get all upset if I didn't score better than the 97th percentile. Meanwhile, my brother (who is A LOT smarter than I am and just doesn't give a shit about tests) would score in the mid-range and I would be instructed not to gloat over scoring better than 98% of my peers. I was in that critical 2% of ass-kissers. You had one in your class growing up. It might have been me.

One of the key concepts in our house when I was growing up was "You are not your grades." My mother would say this to my brother when he didn't do so well on his report card. She would say it to me when I did do well. I needed to be taken down a notch. Repeatedly. I understand all this now, but at the time there was no greater thrill than filling in all the correct bubbles and being granted that slim glimpse at intellectual superiority.

Flash forward 20 years and I now despise standardized tests. Seems I've gotten a whole lot stupider in those couple of decades...

See, I am taking the GRE on Saturday ... I know that I will score really really low on the math part, seeing as how I completely lost the quantitative part of my brain a while ago. I can barely count, let alone find the greater integer or whatever. It's become another language to me, one I don't even have a phrase book for.

The real meat of this test for me is the vocabulary and writing part. I know a lot of words. I know how to string thoughts into sentences (sometimes). But when I was taking the practice tests, all the information I once knew takes a holiday. Suddenly, I have the vocabulary of a cave-dweller.