If there is one thing that I didn’t like about school, besides having to be around people, and dealing with authority figures, and the homework, and the reading and the math and the science and the cold weather, and the bullying and the broken system that schools are, it was the tests.
I never understood how to study for tests, because every subject was always so different. For instance, if you do a history test, you usually had to do a lot of reading and you had to remember some stupid facts about what things that happened 4 million years ago. How was I supposed to remember stuff that happened 4 million years ago, when I couldn’t even remember what I had for dinner last night? Seems a little unfair if you ask me.
Math tests were completely different. You didn’t memorize a bunch of facts and then regurgitate them. In math, you had to show your work or you didn’t get credit, even if you guessed the right answer. And you could do hundreds of practice tests, but the real test always looked a little different than the practice tests and that always threw me off. You had to memorize how the formulas worked and even if you did, the test would always throw you for a tiny little loop.
You know the old study they did about what people’s worst fears were, and more people were afraid of public speaking than dying? I think that study might be a little outdated, but I don’t think even back then it was right. I’ve never had a major fear of public speaking or dying. I don’t have a major fear of heights, snakes or even spiders. You know what I’m afraid of? That I still have flashbacks and nightmares about? Being trapped. In a testing center. In college. Freezing when I had no idea what these words were. I could have studied for weeks and never figured out what the heck this test was saying.
What was it about tests that made me freeze up so badly? The biggest reason was probably that I rarely studied for tests beforehand, because I never knew how. Or I never had the motivation to do so, or I had more important things to do, like watch the Transformers, or The Office, or play video games. Because let’s be honest, if you don’t make time for your favorite Office workers, or your favorite video game worlds, they might never speak to you again. And more importantly, how would you ever be welcome at a party of people that you can’t stand, if you don’t have a few Office quotes or scenes in your back pocket to bring up?
A bigger reason why I froze up, was because I looked at the material and realized how useless it would always be. Let’s analyze the importance of learning how to, let’s say, do a quadratic equation, versus learning Michael Scott’s most embarrassing moments. We can even enter math mode for this discussion. Let’s tally how many times I’ve used quadratic equations in my life, compared to how many times I’ve used Michael Scott Quotes.
Quadratic Equation talk: 0
Michael Scott Quotes: 13
Quadratic Equations: Zero
Micheal Scott Quotes: 4+
Quadratic Equations: 0
Michael Scott Quotes: Somewhere between Infinity and Unquantifiable.
I could go on, but I think you might get bored of the three times I mentioned Quadratic Equations. I know you could listen to me talk about Michael Scott over and over again though.
The point of telling you these things was that I had so much anxiety and nightmares about tests for so many years that I still think about how horrible they were. And there was no reason, except that education is so broken that they think we need to learn quadratic equations. They make every person that goes through school learn stuff that only .01% of people will ever need (math teachers). Kind of like going through all that work to get my Eagle Scout. For years, my parents told me that if I get good grades and do well on tests and get my Eagle Scout, I could put them on my resume and get a good job.
And here I am, working at a supplement company, working in marketing, doing something I basically learned on the job. No one has ever asked me on an interview about how well I did on my math test, or about my Eagle Scout.
I think my parents should have given me better advice, like play more video games, make more funny videos, and be better looking, because the future is being a good looking Instagram influencer, video game streamer or YouTuber.
Tests in school were useless. That isn’t to say YOU shouldn’t test though. YOU should test all the time. For all you married people, I bet you tested a lot of people before you decided on your current person. Dating isn’t about having fun and going to dinner. It’s just one big social test. Before you got married, you experimented with a lot of different people to find out what kind of people you liked hanging out with. There were probably quite a few people that failed right away in the chemistry department, and you realized that you didn’t like people that liked to party 24/7. Or people that talked too much or liked being outside in the wilderness. You did find out that you liked people that had a bitter sense of humor.
I also bet you didn’t buy the first car you ever stepped in. You probably took at least four or five test drives. I’m guessing for you published authors, you probably tested an idea or two before you settled on the kind of books you like or are good at writing. Or you bloggers probably started a blog or two before you landed on the one that has been making the most hay.
I’m guessing you even tested the temperature of the water this morning in your shower before you leaped in.
My son is really bad at taking tests like me, but he’s really good at testing our patience all the time. He’s always pushing buttons to make sure he achieves maximum annoyingness. Everytime he thinks he’s reached out limit, he goes in and pushes a few more buttons. While I want to wrestle him to the ground and pin his shoulders to a mat, I do have to admire his affinity for testing limits. Maybe it will come in handy someday when he becomes an NFL football player. Then I can live in his poolhouse and I can see other players test his limits and introduce him to a new character I like to call Humility.
Point is, we should be testing all the time. I do it at my job all the time. We do A/B testing on Facebook and Google Ads to test how certain aspects of the ads perform better so we can get better results. I’m always tweaking things on our website like pictures, text, prices, etc. to see what performs better.
And just so you know, I’m always testing my bitter ideas on you guys all the time. Do you have any idea how much I use you guys to test ideas? Lots. I have thousands of ideas that I throw at the internet wall, and you guys are my little test subjects. Little did you know that you are all sitting in the Bitter Blog testing center taking tests for me so I don’t have to.
I’m sure it sucks for you to realize that you are just a bunch of lab rats. At least Pinky and the Brain know they are labs rats and are used for testing. Don’t worry though. Someday I’ll throw out a little piece of cheese for you as a reward.
Bitter Testing The Waters Ben