Surprised by Tests


Lot’s of thoughts tonight. I fell asleep around 10 last night while studying for History, which was probably a long needed extra few hours, but because of that, I did not get to blog about yesterday’s adventures in the life of Pinya. So I shall start before the beginning of today.

Yesterday I took the OECD test which is based off of the PISA test, a test that 15 year olds around the world take in order to compare education rankings amongst different countries. I was originally really annoyed that I would have to take this test because I thought I got out of it last year since I’m not even 15 anymore, but then I was told I had to take the standardized test anyway.

Something I always find interesting is that several students, myself included, actually enjoy taking standardized test at times. Don’t get me wrong, I typically believe standardized test prove nothing because they are just multiple choice that you could potentially guess your way through. However, it can be a little entertaining sometimes to take an easy test that has just about nothing to do with what you are learning in school and you know it doesn’t count for any grade plus it can be kind of relaxing to not go to class for a large chunk of time in the day.

The truth is, on that particular day, the only thing I was sad to miss was ID. I’m starting to say this more and more, but it is true.That was the only part of the morning that I felt like I really needed that time for working and felt like I am now behind because of it. The other two classes I just caught right back up in by today, so missing that time didn’t really effect me.

I would also like to give plaudits to the OECD test, because I enjoyed it more than most standardized test. Everyone was given different types of questions and mine happened to be primarily science and reading questions, but they weren’t all multiple choice which actually surprised me quite a bit. Some of the questions were true and false, and some were even short answer. All in all, you had to think.

Plus we could write in the booklet. It may sound silly, but getting to write in the test actually makes me feel way more comfortable taking a test. I don’t have to keep switching between papers and I can visually see what I am choosing as my answer rather than seeing a bunch of bubbles. It even physically feels better to get to write on the big stack of papers rather than pushing right onto the table.

The test also didn’t ask a ton of questions that I felt like were completely pointless or straight up idiotic. (Like comparing children on a leash and dolphins #PSAT) There were questions about using maps, predicting outcomes, figuring out if a customer would have to pay for time on vacation based off of an advertisement for a gym, and and the stories were decently interesting. It wasn’t the most fun in the world, but when comparing standardized test, it had me decently engaged.

I also really loved how it was timed, but it wasn’t divided into sections where every 45 minutes a proctor says,

“Ok time is up in your math section, please turn the page and carefully read the directions to yourself as I read them out loud. It is now time to start the Reading Comprehension portion of your test. You will read a short piece of writing and then be asked analytical questions about the material. Please look at sample question number one.

Read the passage below and then answer the following question:

‘Sally loves dogs. She has had her own dog since she was 3 years old, and now that Sally is 13 she is opening up her own dog sitting business. Sally is great at watching after dogs and would love to watch your dog for $10 an hour. If you have a dog, don’t leave it at home, contact Sally instead!’ 

What is the purpose of this sections of writing?

a) to explain how much Sally loves dogs

b) to describe the proper technique for dog walking 

c) to inform potential customers that Sally has started a dog watching business and to encourage them to contact her for dog watching services

d) to entertain the reader about how Sally hates Joe  

The correct answer is c) to inform potential customers that Sally has started a dog watching business and to encourage them to contact her for dog watching services because this sections is indeed describing Sally’s new business and trying to get people to pay for her services.

When you reach the STOP sign at the bottom of the last page, please review your answers for this section. You may not work ahead or go back to previous sections of the test. You have 45 minutes to complete this section, now turn the page and beginning section 2 Reading Comprehension.”

(I must admit, I think I had a little too much fun reciting that awful speech I’ve heard dozen of times and coming up with my own great sample problem.)

Ya that didn’t happen!!!!! Instead we had 2 hours to complete all of it but there was no “this section ends here” point; it was all connected- as subjects should be! Plus everyone is better at different things, so this way you can spend longer on questions in subjects you find more challenging and move faster through other sections. Plus most of the time the OECD test required you to use multiple subjects within one grouping of questions (usually a single chart or story would be used for multiple questions).

It was also nice that we could read afterwards because most standardized test make you just sit there when you are done, but because there was only one general time period, once you were done you could turn it in and get something else out. So it gave me a good bit of time to read my awesome new book, “Moonwalking with Einstein; The Art and Science of remembering Everything,” by Joshua Foer.

Tangent time!

It is an amazing book, that talks about myths behind memory being a finite concept that you are born with and decays over time. In actuality, you can improve your brain by training yourself to use different parts of your brain when you memorize.

I took an impact test today for soccer so that I have a base line to test off of if I ever need to be tested for a concussion, and it was all testing speed and memory and visual skills. I found it really fun actually because since I’ve been reading this book I’ve been working on ways to try and improve my memory. To me the test was just like playing a bunch of games that I’ve already been doing to test and improve my memory.

Memorizing is an art, and what I realized is that while school expects you to memorize information, you never learn specifically how to best use and improve you memory. A concussion test is testing your brain power pretty much. The app I’ve been using to develop further into my skills (which could be doing nothing, but I feel like it has done something over the few days I’ve taken it because I did pretty well on the impact test), is testing for these 6 skills: focus, problem solving, memory, visual, speed, and language. What if school “subjects” were broken up this way, and things like math, science, history, and english were used at tools for all of these 6 skills?

I memorize a bunch of digits of pi every year for pi day. (I know around 120 digits by heart at this point.) So you can imagine how memory fascinates me, and I really am intrigued by the idea of testing the boundaries of memory.

I’m not too far into the book, but I’ excited to learn more!

It’s funny, usually I complain about the test I take, but the last two days I have actually taken two test I really was pleased with. (And then there were others I was stressing about, but I won’t even get into those today.)


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