Recently, a woman called the library and was asking questions about the postal service exam, specifically what kind of study guide would be best for her. We have three on the shelf, so I examined them to see what the difference was, while she rambled on in my ear about how hard the test is, how expensive it is to buy the study guides, but how if you fail the test, you get your money back.
“That’s awfully nice of them.” I commented.
Then I started thinking that I should take the postal exam just to see how hard it actually is. I justified this in that I could then tell people who come into the library for postal exam study guides how hard I found it to be, and either assure them, or insist that they need to study.
I’ve always been a sucker for assesment. When I was a junior in high school, our study hall supervisor announced that anyone in grades 11 and 12 could sign up to take the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) I had no intention of joining the military, but it was free, I got out of class, and I was curious if I did ever want to join the military, how good I would be at it. I took it again the following year to see if I could beat my previous score.
Since I went to High School in the Midwest, most schools I was applying to did not require the SAT. For some reason, this is a test I’ve always been afraid of, and so I never opted to take it. Instead I took the PSAT, and the ACT (twice).
Once I got to college, I stayed undeclared for my first two years (much to the horror of my mother). During that time, I joined an undeclared students group devoted to helping us find ourselves, via Meyers-Briggs and other personality analyzing tests. I would say that in my first semester of college, I took about 20 self-assesments, and always found them fun and insightful (though they always said the same thing).
None of them helped me discover the secret talent that I knew lurked deep beneath my snarky surface, and by the time I finally declared myself an English major (my name is Andria, I’m an English major), everyone who knew me sighed a huge sigh of relief and asked “what took you so long?”
Aside: I’m not just being self-centered when I say that. My High School English teacher cornered my brother one days after class and asked him, “Has Andria realized she’s an English major yet?” He just sighed and said, “No, she still hasn’t figured it out.”
When I finished my first masters and was in the throes of my first major life crisis, my solution was to take the LSAT and the GRE. I eventually scrapped the LSAT, but I actually studied for the GRE, which I had never done for a test like this before. My philosophy up to this point was that I was testing what I already knew. What I knew about the GRE, was that I hadn’t done math since sophomore year of High School, and I was in desperate need of a refresher.
As I look at all of the testing study guides on the library shelf, I feel supremely inadequate. There are so many tests I’ve never taken, which means that there are people out there who know things I don’t, which bothers me for some strange reason.
I have no interest in taking a more specific test like the GMAT or MCAT, but I just want to know if I took the test for x, how I would do.
I won’t take the postal exam because if I passed and couldn’t find a library job, I would feel foolish for not wanting to work for the postal service. If I failed, I would feel foolish; and if I passed and took a job with the postal service, I would never be able to take the necessary pay cut to go back to being a librarian.
That is a Pandora’s box best left unopened.