I’m told that this is one of the top questions students (and parents) ask of teachers.
Test questions in school come in many standard forms: true or false, multiple choice, essay…just to name a few. Oh yeah, and word problems! Decipher the riddle, find all the numbers that fit into formulas, and arrive at an answer (hopefully, the correct one). And, of course, remember to show your work.
We’re taught in school that there is only one correct answer to most questions. Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, not 1493. It takes two hydrogens and one oxygen to make water, not two oxygens and one hydrogen. The student’s job is to learn (memorize?) the correct answers and then “ace” their test by answering all of the questions correctly.
It’s no wonder students ask what will be on their tests. After all, their grade is in play. Who wouldn’t want to know what they should study, and what they can ignore? So much is riding on the outcome.
Tests outside of school aren’t as easy. The questions don’t come from our teachers. Variables are often missing, and formulas rarely provide one definitive answer. They aren’t always fair. They don’t come with a study guide. There’s no advice about what should be studied, or ignored. Real life tests come from our family, friends, customers, co-workers, managers, elected officials, our children’s teachers, strangers, and ourselves…on a daily basis. A lot more than a grade is in play with most of these tests.
Attention to detail, listening to what is said and unsaid, curiosity, creativity, openness to risk, connecting with others we trust, and a clear sense of right and wrong are the guides we have in answering the real life test questions we face.
What’ll be on your next test? Everything you’ve experienced in life up to this point, and probably a few things you haven’t seen before. Here’s hoping you studied well.
Test Question: What’s the connection between this post and the sunrise photo?