I'm tormenting a Child by forcing it (FORCING I tell you) to sit at my feet and study a very exciting standardized test book. It is not amused. In fact its attitude borders on sullen.
I tell the Child.
This is important stuff this is. This is life changing, world spinning, vital skillage you're working on now.
Take me, for instance.
I frittered my way through high school (that's ages 13-17 for the European crowd remember although 14-18 is standard). I foodled* in my science classes and out-and-out skipped third year math. I forever shamed my Genuine Professor In A Real University father by earning (yes, really earning) a D in his particular field of study and flabbergasted my mother by consistently receiving "Student Not Achieving Up To Potential" marks right next to the "Student is Working Well" comment.
All of which means that while my sister (she of the Superior Aunt status) had colleges sending her tempting little personal envelopes hinting that Scholarships were available and Her Answer was Eagerly Awaited there were genuine and well founded fears that I would not be welcome at most institutes of higher learning [this was the Dark Ages people. There was no University of Phoenix - Now! With Less Accreditation! - at that time]. My one hope lay in the standardized tests.
See, some of my peers had already thought of this. They had been boning up on various things and opening books (that weren't Jane Austen or Dorothy Sayers). They were, to be honest, studying. Me... not quite as much. In fact in my memory I wasn't really truly aware that I was lined up to take this particular test (since I wasn't going to be going to university I was already trying to choose between my career as a famous and wealthy somethingIhaven'tfiguredoutyet and a sad, sad homeless person on the street. With a cardboard sign.)and so it was something of a shock to actually be sitting in the school library on a Saturday morning with two sharpened #2 pencils and a bubble sheet in front of me.
Which makes it utterly unfair that actually I did fairly well. I didn't cover myself with glory in math but I certainly passed while in science I struck lucky with a biology-heavy section that rewarded the inspired guesser (physics would have sunk me totally) and in English I reaped the reward of an anglophylic mother with a heavy bookshelf. There weren't actually any questions about who Ngaio Marsh's+ detective was** or what little-known character Sayers introduced in her short stories as an alternative to Peter Whimsey*** but dang if I didn't totally rock the vocabulary and reading comprehension section.
In fact now that I think about it I can't actually testify to the value of reading exam taking strategies and taking practice tests. I don't think I'll tell the Child that.
We'll just keep that secret.
*foodled: v. To fool aimlessly while keeping a careful mask of industry and interest.
** Roderick Alleyn.
*** Montague Egg, a traveling salesman who has a store of useful aphorisms from his company handbook to help in all difficulties. Would probably have been incredibly tiresome in novel form but then again Whimsey had his moments too...
+Kirk took the mickey out of me endlessly for reading these. I don't know why he found this name so amusing but whenever I had one lying around it was "nnnnnngnnnnAAAAYoooh" in this amazingly nasal voice. Weird. I can hear it now.