Wednesday, 5 June 2013

More Than I Need to Do

I had a test today, and I had a hundred minutes to complete it in. I finished it in twenty-five. But as I got up and left, feeling the eyes of everyone in the room watching this kid who finished the test in a fifth of the time we had available walk across the room, paper in hand, listening to the faint murmurs of kids exclaim at the speed with which he answered the questions, I couldn't help but wonder if I had been too brief with my answers.

The test had written responses, so it wasn't like I could go down and write C, D, B, A, C, A... etc. I had to describe, elaborate, and explain my arguments and analysis. But I only filled in one page of lined paper, and barely scratched a second.

Why is it that we're constantly encouraged to write more? Last year I did a similar thing and the teacher told me I had to write more. But what if I elaborately explained everything I needed to in a very concise and precise answer?

I never feel right writing more than I have to. I find that if I keep trying to squeeze out more and more information; I will repeat myself, and become monotonous.

And who cares if an essay has a word limit of 1250. That's a maximum, it doesn't say anything about a minimum. Surely it should be fine for me to only write 600 words if I get out everything I had to.

On the flipside; there's something deeply satisfying about being the first one to finish and leaving the room an hour and a half before everyone else. Today, I had time to go home after the test and write this entry before I go back to school for the next two periods. Talk about a bonus!

I remember in grade four, once a day we would have a short maths quiz. It would only be simple questions and it was quite literally a race. We would race down the page, writing answers in a flurry of scribbles, and when we finished we would stand up and yell out "done!"

There was so much satisfaction from winning those quizzes, especially as often as I did. I would win four out of five times, and every day my time got shorter and shorter. See, we timed ourselves as well. The teacher held a stopwatch and told us our times as we finished.

At the start of the year it would take us nearly five minutes to answer the hundred questions. By the end of the year, the fastest of us were consistently finishing in less than a minute. We were penalised a couple of seconds for wrong answers, but we nailed it every time.

Those were the good old days, when rushing through a test, regardless of whether you were right or not, was encouraged. Nowadays, we get ten minutes in which to just look at the test and read everything about four times over before we're even allowed to pick up the pen.

Then we have three hours to spend writing non-stop. What began as a competition to see who could finish first, is now a competition to see who can write the most. Nowadays, we come out of exams saying "I did four pages!", "Well I did five!", "Ha! I did six and a half!", "What? Liar!"

Seriously, I don't find that impressive. I could do six and a half pages if I just repeated myself over and over and over and over and over and over.

But I don't. Because I don't want to write any more than I need to.

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