“Bad test taker”

MCA testing usually results in mixed reactions from students and teachers.


Nathan Baszuro

MCA test taker Mia Jesh labors over her exam in the computer lab

“The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and alternate assessment Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet federal and state legislative requirements.”

-Minnesota Department of Education

And that’s exactly what the MCAS are. They’re a state mandated test that measures whether a student meets the state and federal requirements, but in the end, can a test taken on materials learned 2 years prior really determine whether any student or teacher meets standards? Furthermore, can they determine how a student will do in their classes that have been determined by MCA data?

Quite frankly, this is a no. I am a “Bad Test Taker.” My face gets hot, I get sweaty, it takes me five minutes to answer each question, and I start getting distracted by the other 20 struggling children in the computer lab.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, about 31.9% of adolescents have some form of anxiety disorder, and millions more go undiagnosed. Does this affect test taking? According to Mayo Clinic, “Stress, Anxiety, or Depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and other problems that disrupt daily activities.” Forgetfulness, You say? Difficulty Concentrating? Confusion? All are telltale symptoms of a “Bad Test Taker.” And how am I, disorganized middle schooler, to block out the sounds of clicking keyboards, with my thin earbuds from the dollar store? Not easily, friend.

Overall, very few people excel in tests without studying, and often times, the MCA is done without any prior research on materials learned years before. This makes the MCAs difficult, because in our school system, the majority of learning is done by cramming the night before the test to learn the material, only to forget everything right after the test to make room for new material.

Overall, it is clear that the MCA’s are not an adequate solution to fill the gaping hole that our school system has made when it comes to standardized testing. In the long run, the cram and forget lifestyle that schools indirectly support sets students up for MCA failure in the long run. But, it seems that for all of us “Bad Test Takers” we may have to wait for a while to get the reform that our schools desperately need. In the meantime, don’t forget to study.