Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaBloPoMo Day 1: I didn't forget!

On top of my regular job and my regular social life and my other regular duties, for the past few years I've spent a fair amount of time proctoring tests- the SAT, ACT, LSAT, PCAT, GRE, you name it, I've proctored it. The great thing about this gig is that all you have to do is give up a Saturday morning, and be willing to stand around and look stern, and they give you money for it! It is a wonderful way to make a quick buck.

This past Saturday, I worked an exam, something to do with engineering. As I walked up and down the aisles, one of the examinees motioned toward me with a question. I walked up to him, and rather than tell me what he wanted or what was the matter, he simply pointed to one of the questions, something with graphs and symbols and terms I didn't have a clue about, and then pointed to something he'd written down in the book, which I also didn't understand. He looked a little confused and also triumphant, which is the only thing that made me realize that he believed the question to have some serious flaw in the way it was printed. I let him know about the comment form he could fill out after the test, and walked away, chuckling to myself.

I'm not sure that the people taking these tests realize that we (the people administering the test) have absolutely no background in the content of the test. I don't know if they think that high-caliber engineers spend their Saturdays watching people take tests, or if they think that we're a team of experts that drive around the country, administering that one test to every hopeful engineer, but it's always kind of funny and sad when you have an interaction like that and you see it dawn on them that you don't know the first thing about what they're being tested on.

If you think about it, it makes sense- the examinees aren't allowed any help on questions about the content of the exam, so why in the world would the test be administered by people who could possibly give such help? I like to think of it as like hiring blind men to guard magicians' secrets, or staffing a harem with a bunch of eunuchs. We are valuable in our impotence.

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