Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties is Tested

It is no secret that I am math challenged. Math was always a struggle for me in grade school, and I maintain that I wouldn't have passed high school Trig if I hadn't spent the entire year behind J, who allowed her tests to creep a little to the left so I could take a peek (thanks again, by the way). K always has a laugh at my expense when we are out to dinner--she knows me so well that she can actually see my brain checking out when the subject turns to the bill. When other people are telling me how much I owe, I am usually in my happy place in my mind.

(Here, in case you're interested:)

(In my defense, I see the same look pass over many of my friends when the subject turns to Billy S.)

Since I moved states recently I must also be re-certified as a teacher here. Apparently the testing I took in California, the $18k in tuition I paid for my credential, and five years teaching experience I have does not qualify me for reciprocity in Minnesota. Today I went through my first series of tests, the PRAXIS basic skills test, which is one of two I must take in the next couple of months. It is identical to the CBEST I took and passed in California, and no, I'm not bitter.

PRAXIS I is composed of three parts:
Reading- Sweet
Writing- Cakewalk
Math.... Gulp

A woman in her thirties is a realist, so over the holidays I bought a book with sample questions to help me study for the math portion. I took the CBEST so long ago that I have no recollection of how hard it was, so I thought I'd assure myself a few good nights of sleep and freshen up. When I scored my sample test, I got 173.

You need at least a 172 to pass.

Even I know that's just barely squeaking by. I am terrified of failure even more than I am terrified of Ann Coulter, so I spent the last two nights studying useless (yes, USELESS) information. I tried to put out of my brain that I have never, never once needed the Pythagorean Theorum for anything, ever, in my entire life, and tried to memorize my flashcards. Poor L quizzed me last night, and here's a little snippet of how it went:

L: How do you find the area of a circle?
Me: Um... Pi R squared.
L: Are you sure?
Me: No.
L: How do you find the volume of a cylinder?
Me: Length times width times height.
L: No.
Me: Pi D squared over R.
L: You're just making that up.
Me: Stop judging me.

Like that.

This morning, at the testing center, I sat in a room with about 100 other teachers and people hoping to be teachers. While I went over my flashcards for the umpteenth time (I remember thinking once that 'umpteen' was an actual number), I noticed people around me. Reading novels. Texting. Yawning. Sipping Starbucks. I was the only one worrying, from where I was sitting. Damn you people and your ability to remember how to multiply fractions, I thought.

The math portion was an hour, and I'm not going to lie. It did not go well. Even the invigilator, the one paid to sit there and say nothing, noticed that I was a stress case. While I was able to spend the last fifteen minutes of the reading and writing tests picking Daniel hair off my jacket, I spent every God-loving millisecond I had on the math portion. And if I had to guess the ratio of the number of questions I am confident about to the number of questions I guessed at... oh, who am I kidding? I have no idea what the ratio would be.

I left feeling defeated, and a woman in her thirties does not feel defeated easily. I texted L something along the lines of wanting to throw myself into oncoming traffic, and he texted back, 'You did your best! No biggie if you didn't pass! You'll just take it again! MP (which is our code word for "I love you")'

And I thought to myself that, often, a woman in her thirties is tested. She also gives tests, without even being conscious of it. And LB, for staying up late with me and going over math problems, for loving me even though I am confused by decimals, for making me feel today that I have a head cheerleader in my husband, I'm pleased to announce you passed. MP


  1. P.S. You may not know what a "rotary cutter" is, but you had me with "invigilator". In fact, I'm still sitting here repeating it very slowly in my head to sound it out. Um... yeah.

  2. T, that's my fault. In the US we say "proctor", but everywhere else says "invigilator". When I was in China I got used to saying "invigilator" (more respectable sounding, don't you think?) and didn't even think twice when I wrote it here!

  3. Awwww is right.

    Who is Billy S?

    And when do you find out that you passed? :)

  4. William S. Mr. Shakespeare. I've got four weeks of torture before knowing if I have to take the math portion again :(

  5. I'll bet you did great! And then you don't ever have to do it again. Well, until you move states again... (I, too, hate reciprocity rules!!!) P.S. Remember in college when you would write my papers and I would do your math homework? I don't think we did each other any favors...

  6. I would have been in the same state of stress, for sure! It's amazing how much we're able to put up with - how much we care. From a certain perspective, I see it as an act of incredible self-love.

  7. Umm haven't heard of proctor either.

    Cbest = piece of cake a YEAR AFTER HIGH SCHOOL!

    Who wants to take it in their 30's? Yikes.

    I can barely help Chloe with her 3rd grade math homework.