How are you when it comes to taking tests at school?
You’ve been faithful to keep up with your homework, you’ve studied for this test, you feel fairly well prepared. Then test day comes and you’re a nervous wreck. You feel tense, jangled nerves, stomach is in knots. The nervous anticipation is so strong, you can hardly concentrate on the test itself.
You’re in good company!
I’m here to tell you that you’re in good company. It’s been true throughout history.
Get a load of this poor chap.
There were no questions about the subjects he felt he had mastered: grammar, history, French, geography. Instead he was asked to translate passages in Greek and Latin. His mind went blank. He couldn’t even remember the Greek alphabet. Then, as he recalled afterward, he found himself…
“unable to answer a single question in the Latin paper. I wrote my name at the top of the page. I wrote down the number of the question, ‘I.’ After much reflection I put a bracket round it, thus, ‘(I).’ But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true. Incidentally there appeared from nowhere in particular, a blot and several smudges. I gazed for two whole hours at this sad spectacle; and then merciful ushers collected up my piece of foolscap* and carried it up to the Headmaster’s table.”
The Last Lion by William Manchester
* Chiefly British. a size of drawing or printing paper, 13.5 × 17 inches
Ever feel this way? You’re staring at a sheet of paper as the minutes are ticking by. Only difference, you’re probably not staring at an ink blot. Nor is there a Headmaster. We call them “teachers.” Right?
Written by a famous world leader
This agonizing bit of reflection was written, and the incident experienced, by none other than the man who later in life would defy the entire realm of the axis powers in WWII with these powerful words. Words that carried a nation, and the free world, to victory:
…we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…
“Never surrender!” These words were spoken by Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain on June 4, 1940, a year and a half before the U.S. entered the war. And as a side note, Winston was 14 years old when he blanked out and failed his test in school. In the long run, that test meant very little in his life.
Put things in perspective
While this is not to advocate that you muddle your way through school and not care about tests and grades, it does help put things into perspective.
When you get the butterflies and sweaty palms before a test, just remember you’re in great company. And that test will not determine who you are, where you’re headed, or what you will become. Your own initiative, determination, and creativity will determine that.
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
Always aim high!
NOTE: Be aware there is such a thing as test anxiety which is much different (more serious) than the normal level of test nervousness. More about that subject right here!
My newest release, Brought To You By The Color Drab, is a story of a teen who had many obstacles to overcome. But comes out a winner! You can read the first two chapters right here. Just click below.