Tuesday, February 6, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 90


 
 









 

There ought to be a law banning angst

Margaret Mitchell

Four more days and the agony will end. That's what I'm telling myself. Just four more days until I get my life back.

In a mere 96 hours I, like several of you, will be approaching what feels most definitely like a firing squad, hoping and praying that I am left standing (or staggering) when it all ends.

In four more long days the February LSAT will be over.

I've been in school for more than 11 years now, and it's all coming down to this: four hours on a Saturday morning sitting in a lecture hall armed with No. 2 pencils, a timer and a Scantron.

It's no consolation that I'll be surrounded by about 400 other people who are just as scared as I am and have just as much on the line as I do.

It's hard to believe that a stupid test has been responsible for so much angst in my life and the lives of so many others.

It will be wonderful to rid myself of this horrible feeling of anxiety that I'm totally unprepared. The fear of bombing out -- or worse, of looking totally stupid -- will mercifully come to an end.

Oh, God, what if I fail?

For the past several weeks I've been taking a prep class, learning the "tricks" of the test and trying to comprehend something that makes so little sense, in a desperate attempt to reproduce it and raise my score by a few lousy points.

But those points are what it's all about.

I have taken some comfort in the fact that I am not the only one who leaves these prep classes feeling like I know less than I did before I entered.

I've learned some great tricks, and I hope it's enough to at least not cause the admissions clerks to fall over laughing and say, "She wants in here? With that score? Bwa-hahaha!"

It all just seems so pointless, but then again, I guess this pretty much sums up the argument over every kind of standardized testing, from the TAAS to the SAT.

It's easy to understand the motivation behind standardized testing and employing one standard where everyone begins. But if that is the motivation, then the starting line should at least be relevant.

It's one thing to test students on the stuff every student should know, like basic math and language proficiency. What I don't understand is testing that has nothing to do with what you know or what you are going to learn.

Case in point: On the very first day of my LSAT prep class, the instructor said to give this our all and learn as much as we can, but the day after the test we can forget it all because we're not going to use any of it again.

I understand that logic and reasoning skills are crucial for an attorney or any professional. What I don't understand is how asking the questions like "If Jim sits next to Peter, but Bess doesn't sit next to Paul, where does Jay sit?" has any relevance to anything -- attorney or not.

The road to hell is definitely paved with good intentions, and the testing industry has proven that time and time again.

Make no mistake; student testing is an industry.

Not only is a great deal of money made selling the tests and charging students for the privilege of taking exams, but a cash cow exists in teaching students how to "beat" the system, or at the very least, how to play smarter.

It's all just a big game, and it's an expensive one, at that.

Games are games, and I've been in school long enough that I feel like I've played enough games. Besides, if I really find I miss playing games, I'll just start dating again. (Cheap shot, but I couldn't resist.)

To the rest of Saturday's imminent victims: Good luck, and I hope you make it into the law school of your choice.

Mitchell, a senior political science major, 
can be reached at smeggie37@hotmail.com.

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