I enjoy taking tests. It seems like a simple enough statement, but the number of jaws that drop when I utter it is always somewhat surprising. However, it’s the truth. I like the slight butterflies that come right before a test. I like that I don’t have to be trying to learn anything new, but just remembering what I have already learned. And I like the feeling of the slow, clinical deducing to find the correct answer.
Accordingly, I follow the tradition in my family of being a fairly level-headed test taker. I get more nervous for homework assignments than I do for tests, and I know enough of the tricks that go along with test taking to generally do pretty well.
However, it was just this sort of thinking that tripped me up when I got ready to take my drivers license test. It was then that I found out that, lo and behold, I was going to follow another family tradition of not being too great at all types of tests. In fact, I am the third of five siblings that have taken the drivers license test so far to fail on the first attempt, and the second to fail twice.
The written portion of the driving test was much like any other. There were multiple choice answers, the occasional question with a blatant correct choice, and some that were more difficult to answer. It required some studying, time and lots of legal proof that I was the person I said I was. In no time at all, they were handing over the white paper informing the world that I was permitted to join the ranks of the driving — only accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian of course.
Imagine my surprise when I began to put my knowledge into practice and realized that driving was not a skill that was going to come easily to me. I felt like Hermione Granger from the “Harry Potter” series when she realizes that she cannot learn to fly from simply reading a book. Still, no license is necessary to play Quidditch.
After my first attempt at getting a license, which was only after nearly maxing out the length of time I have before my permit expires, I felt shaky, inadequate and like I might lose my lunch. I had bumped into the curb trying to parallel park near the beginning of the test, which in turn had caused me to be nervous enough to forget my left from right. Imagine my instructor’s surprise when I changed over three lanes to go the opposite direction from the one she had told me.
It was actually enlightening to realize, once it was all over, that I was experiencing testing nerves. Once enough time had passed that the event could become humorous, I shared it with my friends, expecting to hear at least somewhat similar stories.
However, I was shocked to find out that the majority of my friends were hardly nervous at all for their driving tests, which had been taken months before my own. They had also all managed to pass with flying colors.
I returned the next week to retake my test after days of practicing maneuvers and pep talks from those in my family that were now older than me and who had become — despite their, in some cases, disastrous testing stories — excellent drivers.
However, after running a stop sign and rescheduling yet another testing date, one lesson stands out above the rest. Good testing skills can only get you so far in life. Sure, colleges might look at ACT scores for admission, an important final might determine a grade for one semester, and, in my case, a multiple choice test might allow me limited access to the roads. However, when it all comes down to it, if you can’t, as they say, put your money where your mouth is, then even the best test taker won’t go far.
Ah well, here’s to hoping that the third time really is a charm.
Siera Gomez is a junior at Stansbury High School.