August 18, 2013

Tests and scores

When my friends used to fear and despise tests and exams in school, I wasn’t so negative about tests. Most likely because I had no issues excelling in those tests. After years of going through tests, one day I realised something. Tests are tools for evaluating one’s own progress. Fussing about grades and ranks is besides the point. The main benefit of taking a test is that when the results come out you would know if you have learned well enough. (This is assuming you believe what the test measures is important.)

I had a similar revelation again today. I have been doing vision training exercises for the past few weeks. Vision training computer program gives you a series of challenges and gives you a score for each challenge based on how well you tackled it. These challenges are designed in such a way that they stretch your eyes’ focusing muscles increasing the efficiency of your eyes. Once you score above a certain threshold in a challenge, you are taken to the next level where the challenge gets a little harder.

At some point, pride took over and I got too fixated on the score. All I had in mind when sitting for the training was that I should score above the threshold and move to next level. By blindly focusing on getting to higher levels, I failed to notice what the vision training was meant to accomplish: to train your eyes to perform well in different scenarios. Like how physical exercises train your body to do well in different scenarios.

In hindsight this is obvious, but I didn’t know this was a mistake I was making. My mad attempts to push through the levels in the training programme actually made it harder for me to make any progress. Once I knew what’s the essence of the training, I could consciously focus on what my eyes were doing rather than the score I’d be earning. I did the training the “right way” today. Though I didn’t score enough to move to the next level, I am confident I am on the right track.

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