Testing, Testing . . . Why So Many Tests?


How do you feel about tests?

The American president has been in the news recently about “passing” a test on cognitive ability. It certainly sounded like it had some interesting questions.

What do tests prove?

Sometimes it’s clear-cut — like a driving test, or the editorial one we do at DC Thomson to check job candidates’ grammatical knowledge and spelling ability.

Many are a bit vague in their helpfulness.

We do so many in our early lives, like school exams, career suitability tests, even eye exams. I have to admit to being quietly competitive at most things — even an eye test or a hearing test feels like a challenge, and I forget that they’re just trying to get an accurate picture of your ability, not grade you for some award!


Jobs that don’t exist

I was recently talking with my wife about the career aptitude tests we both sat at school.

We’d been having a wider discussion about jobs, after I’d spotted a book about how to prepare your children for a future in careers that don’t even exist yet!

It’s an interesting thought, and it made us think about our early career tests.

It felt like in those days they didn’t really know what to do with you if you had creative leanings. Anybody I knew who had the potential to be an artist, a writer, a sculptor, a journalist or a musician was told that they should be a teacher!

A fine profession, but surely just one of the many options?

I suppose back then nobody would’ve guessed people could make a living out of being a YouTube star, or even a TikTok star (and I still don’t know what that is).

In fact, the job options that test recommended were probably limited to teacher, engineer, accountant or IT person.



What’s your type?

In management training — and sometimes just for fun — I’ve done other tests to tell you more about your own personality.

It’s always interesting, and sometimes it helps you get to know yourself a bit better, but all these definitions of yourself fade in the memory over time.

And, if you search for the subject of preparing kids for jobs that don’t exist, many of them say the current system of testing is letting them down. It’s not establishing the right foundations.

When I received my degree in English, I was assured by everybody at least 5 years older than me that this was the passport to success.

Perhaps 10 years before I had it, it was . . . but by the time I had it, less so.

The world had moved on, and was asking for people with degrees PLUS relevant experience — or a specific degree in the job you wanted to go for.

I remember temping with a bloke who’d done a Human Resources degree. He couldn’t get a job in that field until he also had several years’ experience! He felt stuck. A lot of people of my generation had that “How do I get a job without experience, but how do I get experience without a job?” conundrum.



Trust yourself

I think it’s important to take test results with a pinch of salt. When it comes to knowing yourself and your future, it’s much better to listen to the advice of people you trust and to listen to yourself. And do your own research.

In the end, it turned out that doing so many English exams did land me a dream job. Working for the “Friend”! And I love it.

Has any test you’ve done changed your life?

If so, we’d love to hear about it for our letters page! Send us an email at: betweenfriends@dctmedia.co.uk

Read more from the “Friend” team over on our blog.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.