There is an on-going debate about standardizing testing in schools. I certainly do not agree with eliminating arts, music, and physical education in order to spend inordinate amounts of time preparing for and taking standardized tests. However, I can’t honestly say that standardized tests don’t prepare kids for the real world. Kids who grow up to work in the growing number of fields that value certifications will have more standardized tests in their futures. If they’ve become good at taking them it will be a benefit to their careers.
I’ve taken (and passed!) two certification exams in the past six months. In addition to studying the actual subject areas being tested, I had to mentally prepare myself for the mere process of taking a standardized test. Here are the two most important standardized test skills that I struggled with:
Sure, I used to be able to read comprehensively, but over the years as I’ve been bombarded with more and more content I have defaulted to a lot of skimming. Unfortunately, skimming isn’t good for taking an exam. Missing or misreading one word can be the difference between a right answer and a wrong one. Careful reading of the questions is a valuable standardized test skill that takes practice.
I took three hours to complete my CISA exam and five hours to complete my CISSP exam. Other sleeping I can’t think of many other times in the past decade that I’ve gone so long focused on just one thing. No checking social media or email. No getting a snack. No taking notes about a blog post or play idea. I had to focus on the test and just the test. It was challenging and made reading comprehension all the more difficult.
So, kids, take your standardized testing skills seriously. They will come in handy if you want to be a CISA or a CISSP or a PMP or a CPA or a… you get the idea.
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