I don’t know why when I started this blog I actually thought I would have time to update it regularly. I have a toddler, a part-time job, and a baby on the way… It is rare to have an evening with time to myself lately, so finding time to write for the blog is becoming a rare opportunity. But tonight I found the time! And I have to vent about having to take a test for work.

I have always been a pretty good test taker. Of course I hate taking tests and I stress like crazy over them, but under the pressure I actually do pretty well. I have great short term memory, so if I study right before a test and I understand the material I can usually recall everything. But ask me the next day about the test material and I wouldn’t be able to answer your questions.

The preparing, studying and anticipating the tests all really stress me out. When I had to do this regularly for school I had study methods and a routine. Now I have been out of school for 10 years and studying for a test seems so foreign to me. 

Recently, for my job I was required to take two timed tests. These were not the usual easy watch the training video then answer yes/no or true/false question work tests. These were take a full day of training, with 2 thick training packets, then get asked to take two tests that are both 30 questions in 30 minutes. The questions are multiple choice, and in some cases multiple correct answers. You really have to take your time reading and understanding both the question and all the answers, and it’s hard to take that time when you are being timed to complete the test. And the material is not easy stuff.

I took the training way back in the beginning of June, but I kept putting off taking the test because: 1) I was busy at work and didn’t have time to study or take the test during my work day, 2) I didn’t want to study or take the test in my free time, 3) I heard almost everyone fails the test the first time they take it, which made the test seem even scarier and more stressful to me, and 4) I just didn’t want to take it!

Finally, the day came where I was given a deadline to complete the test and had no choice. I was still too busy at work to find time to study and take the test (as a part-time worker I am usually busy every minute of every day I’m in the office), so I ended up doing it in my “free” time. I spent about 3 full weeknights in a row reviewing the training materials. Then last Saturday I dedicated my whole day to the tests.

I woke up and began reviewing the study materials, after a few hours I went to the gym to work out which usually helps me relieve some stress. I studied again though lunch and felt ready for the first test. I was pleasantly surprised to find they increased the time on the test from 30 to 45 minutes (probably because too many people were failing). My preparations paid off and I passed with only missing one question.

I then prepared a similar way for the second test. The study packet was much thicker for the second test, but I did more skimming than reading because I felt I knew the material better from my everyday work. But during the test the questions were much more difficult than I thought they would be. I got a few wrong early on and started to get nervous. I didn’t know what the passing percentage was for the test, so I didn’t want to get too many wrong. I calculated that I could get 6 wrong for 80%, so that was my goal with not knowing what the passing mark was.

I hit 6 wrong answers with 10 questions left to go. The last 10 questions were the most stressful 15 minutes I’ve had in awhile because I was trying to finish of the test without any more wrong answers. My hands were literally shaking as I clicked submit on the final question. I scored 80% and passed the test!

I’m so relieved that it’s over and I passed both tests on my first try. I feel a huge weight lifted off of me because these tests have been hanging over my head since June. I hate that we are required to take such stressful tests for work and the fact that I had to take it in my precious free time. But I think that is one of the realities and trade offs of the working world. Sometimes you work extra hours, sometimes you have to take tests, or do other unpleasant assignments. But at the end of the day, I remind myself that I have a great paying job that (usually) makes me feel smart and valued.

I’m still pretty swamped at work and trying my best to get caught up before the baby arrives. Ideally I will get all my work completed and handed off to coworkers before I go on maternity leave. I don’t want to leave any unfinished work open, but it is looking less and less likely everyday because every time I take one step forward completing an assignment I feel like I take two steps back with new work on my plate. I am trying to not let myself get stressed about it because I know it isn’t good for the baby. I will do the best I can in the time I have and that will have to be good enough.

Have you ever had to take any major tests for work? Did you complete all your open work before you went on maternity leave?

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