Close your books. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. Put your name and date at the top and number your paper 1-10. You have a pop quiz."
Do you remember the way your heart pounded as it dropped to the bottom of your chest and you begrudgingly complied with your teacher's instructions?
In life there are tests, big and small, and so we know that at some point during our lives we can expect a test or two. In school, there were the tests that the instructor gave you advance notice. On these tests, you were expected to do well because you were given both the tools and time you needed. Then, of course, there were the tests that you never saw coming. These were called "pop quizzes."
Now, a pop quiz is a different kind of test because while they are usually given without prior announcement, they are usually given for a few specific reasons:
1. To assess where you are in a particular subject. When this kind of pop quiz is given, the instructor is most often trying to gauge a student's strengths and weaknesses.
After you have been practicing, reading, and discussing material for a period of time, then the other reason you may encounter a pop quiz comes into play
2. To see if you have grasped or comprehended what you have been learning up to that point. An instructor might give this kind of pop quiz to try to determine whether it is necessary to backtrack or whether it is OK to proceed with the given material. Much like pop quiz type 1, type 2 does not carry with it huge consequences. Your performance is evaluated to help better prepare you for what is to come. They are no less important, however.
All quizzes lead to bigger tests, which leads us to the third pop quiz type.
3. To see if you are doing what you are supposed to (i.e. studying, reading, and completing homework assignments.) Unlike the first 2 types, pop quiz type 3 carries with it significant consequences. This kind of pop quiz usually counts and is factored in with other grades to determine your overall grade. A low quiz grade of this type in a class has the potential to bring an average way down. This quiz type is a bigger deal because more often than not it contains much, if not all, of the information from the previous quiz types. The instructor has likely covered it in discussion and has given those reading and homework assignments to familiarize you with the material. So, now your performance is an indicator of whether or not you have been reviewing and paying attention all along.
In many ways, life's tests are much like pop quiz type 3. They are surprising to us because they were not previously announced, but we've seen the material before. Whether we pass or fail is contingent upon whether or not we have been paying attention all along. Sometimes we get it and sometimes we miss it. And, in life, you will miss it, perhaps more than once, but the important thing to remember is that if you do, you will see it again.
When we consistently fail tests, it is a sign that we are not growing, getting better, becoming stronger or becoming wiser. This is the point of life and the intent of its tests.
Perhaps what is most different about life's tests is that they are not taken with pen and paper in a classroom. Instead, they are taken as you go on your journey each day. Pay attention and as always-be encouraged.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.