Too Much Testing

by

Yesterday morning I didn’t feel very well: getting sick; carnival food problem; one too many glasses of wine with dinner? During my fourth class doing a listening exercise, I stopped reading about two sentences into my third pass through the material. I paused for a bit, re-read the instructions in Japanese, and continued again. Once they finished, I checked the answers with them, and then led them in a speedy version of pictionary. The teacher was pretty worried because I normally tick along like a machine.

Last night I studied a bit for my upcoming tests, watched the news, and tried to visualize my shuji model for the month. At some point, probably 8pm, I dozed off. Around 1am I woke up with an array of study materials strewn around me like a giant halo. After answering nature’s call: I gathered up the books and notes; shut of the TV and light; and set an alarm for the morning. Today I am feeling a lot better; perhaps a good eleven hours of sleep is what I needed.

Most likely I have signed up for too many tests. Trying to cram for the tests while continuing my normal classes and activities has been a bit tiring. Particularly, signing up for the level 7 kanji test, which I don’t expect to pass, has been taxing. How do you study for a test you can’t be ready for in time? Without all the other stuff, I would just focus on it and study like a madman, but it would be silly to abandon study of the level 8 test for the higher one.

Tomorrow and Thursday are chances for me to advance on my studies. We will be having mid-terms at the junior high. So far I have no responsibilities during the testing, this means five fewer classes to prepare and several extra hours.

It hasn’t been long since the last test at school, and next month we will have the finals. Third term is shorter and will still require mid-terms and finals. Additionally, the 9th graders will be taking high school entrance exams. I sometimes joke that Japanese people must love tests because they are always taking them or preparing for them. Only sometimes do I joke this way since the reaction is highly unpredictable: they always say that they hate tests, but their mood ranges from mild amusement to abject fury when they respond. I feel sorry for the kids. One friend at another school is very sharp, but seizes up on the tests out of fear. Last week and this week, I reminded my students to stay calm on test day. I hope it works.

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