Thursday, December 9, 2010

This is a test. This is only a test.

Test Anxiety.

     One of the things I have come to learn, quite well, is standardized tests. It doesn't mean that I can ace any test, but after working with test-takers for a decade there are few truths I come to rely upon and recognize: familiarize yourself with the material; understand the layout of the test; spend more time with the question than the answer; translate the question into your own language so you can maintain your  focus; and, maintain a neutral mind-space when testing.

     All really good advice. If you don't want to hear me wax philosophical, I'd stop reading now.

     All of these "evident truths," of course, are easier typed than done. That's where I come in. Lately, I have been allowed, or aligned, to start delving a little deeper into the mindset of testing and the emotional blockages that wind quietly through the subconscious and sabotage the individual's performance. The test-taker, in effect, stands in the way of the very thing they want.

      Sound familiar?

     "But, Kate, I understand what you are saying, yet I think there is more I can do to improve."

     Of course there is. There is always more to do. Do it. And, I ask you, how are you at be-ing? How are you at not doing? At delving inward and seeing what is there? What is that voice that says: "It's `c;' no, `a;' no; `c;' wait. let me read the question again..." until one feels like they are sinking in quick sand.

     I argue that this is not merely content based, but also the domain of the psyche - do you believe in doing well? Is this test connected to a deeper truth or identity about yourself? Are you afraid of success? Are you un-worthy of your own dreams?

      Think I am crazy? I probably would, too. Except, I sat outside a Starbuck's yesterday and listened to a teenager reflect upon her poor SATs, an exceptionally bright teenager. An hour into our conversation, as we began to suss out where the anxiety to "perform" came from,she reflected on certain pieces of her life, and that she was not "always like this" and there was the "time when things changed." Unexpectedly, she welled up, as she began to grieve her grandmother's death. From three years ago. She had never cried over her passing before.
     Do I believe this one piece will cure her anxiety? No.

     Does it play a part? Yes.

     Is this rational? Of course not.

     As I sat there listening, I watched fascinated at the intricacy of each of us, and our desire to be whole again. I did not bring about this grief, but I was there to listen. I did not try and fix this child, but I did offer her the perspective that she deserved to feel free. Who knows what lurks at the bottom of a very long thread of the psyche.  Perhaps, it is time to sit with these questions.

     Grab your number two pencils.

Interested in test preparation or holistic counseling?  Just ask.

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