I am good at taking tests.
That isn't bragging, it's a statement of fact.
By the time I was in sixth grade, I had figured out how tests were written and how they connected with the material taught in class. I knew what things to study (and what things to skip over) to get high marks on almost any test.
The only exception I remember was my junior year in college. I had a business ethics course with a professor who lectured the entire two hours of every class. I took notes on what he was saying according to my past history of test-taking. He also wrote our text, which was less of a textbook and more of a collection of essays he compiled. We had two tests that semester, a mid-term and a final.
When I opened my mid-term and looked over the questions, I almost started laughing. But not because anything was funny.
It was like the test was written in a foreign language.
I had no clue.
And, seeing how I was a junior in college at this point, it was not only frightening but completely surprising.
I had this test stuff figured out. Who did my professor think he was, changing "the rules" like that?
In hindsight I can see he wanted to truly test our knowledge. It wasn't fact regurgitation, it was principle application. At the time, though, it stressed me out. What if I lose my scholarship over this?
That mid-term changed a lot of things for me: how I took notes in that class; how I studied the notes; how I listened. The final, though less surprising, was no less frightening.
I realized I was not the test-taking machine I thought I was.
In Alma 34:32 it says, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."
We hear often that this life is a test. I only recently started looking at that a little deeper. If this "preparatory state" (Alma 12:26) was indeed designed by God--and I believe it was--and if God is indeed a perfect being--and I believe He is--then doesn't it follow that God has designed the perfect test?
There have been times in my not-so-distant past when I wanted someone else's test.
It wasn't until coming across these scriptures in a quiet time that I realized something: God designed my test for me. He knows what it will take to turn me into what I want to become.
(And I doubt a regurgitation of facts will be on the final.)
I don't always agree with Him and His methods. Lots of times I don't like it.
I find myself asking, "Why?" and "Isn't there any other way for me to learn this particular lesson? To rub off this rough spot?" or even, "Does it have to hurt this much?"
That's when I remember it's a test. As new trials come, I find myself changing my study methods: what I focus on; how I take notes; how I listen.
I've learned God is always right. I have to trust Him and realize, especially on those days when I want to 'trade', that someone else's test won't get me where I want to go.