A lurch in my tummy and a flash of confused panic.
That is my initial response to the word test.
One simple reason: I am a college student.
At the mere mention of a test I am startled, afraid, and exhausted in an instant. Even when someone else mentions a test of their own I immediately become convinced I have forgotten a test and I am doomed to fail it. It could happen between semesters when there can’t possibly be a test for me to forget, and I will still react the same way. It’s what I like to facetiously call my Collegiate PTSD. Don’t think that just because I say facetiously that it isn’t a very real disorder. Anyone who has ever been to college for even a single semester can attest to the physically visceral gut reactions associated with late night binge studying, extortionate material costs, and the mind boggling amount of necessary multitasking. Whoever thought that 18 to 20somethings were prepared for the onslaught of #adulting required by SUCCESSFULLY completing a college degree was clearly not paying attention to life as an 18 to 20something. I emphasize successfully because barely passing and/or binge drinking your way through 4 years of wasted tuition is not what I am talking about.
I am talking about the anxiety connected to actually caring what it says on your college transcripts. Actually caring what faculty would write about you in a letter of recommendation. If you are or were one of those types of college student then I can pretty solidly say that you too have a physical reaction to the word test. And it ain’t pretty…
Now I can actually say that I have been a Dean’s List recipient for nearly every semester that I have been enrolled in higher education. It’s not a empty brag, I am PROUD to say I have busted my ass to be successful in college. I have also done this over way more than the basic number of semesters required in a four year degree. Three associates degrees, a certificate, and two institutional transfers have turned me into a professional student at this point. I have experienced so many quizzes, tests, exams, reviews, critiques, and assessments that I ought to get an “A” on the Taking a Test test. When I FINALLY receive my bachelors degree next spring I plan to frame it, hang it, and let my mother stick a photocopy on her fridge if she wants. After all of that, one might think that just the word test should have no impact on seasoned assessment veteran like myself.
You’d be wrong.
While all my years as a student have changed the way I prepare for tests, changed the way I prioritize tests, and changed how highly I value test grades…it is still true that when I hear the word or walk through that classroom door to face the thing down head on…I still feel that instant moment of panicked certainty that I’m in the wrong room, I’ve read the wrong chapter, and that the test was yesterday.