Any Difficulties Met In Essay Tester

A few years ago, I met with my former high school social studies teacher to catch up over drinks. "Miss F" was one of my favorite teachers and we hadn't seen each other in about 12 years. As we reminisced about our field trips, my other classmates, and my hilariously unfortunate fashion choices, she revealed to me that she and many of my former high school teachers refer to that time as "the golden era". I was shocked. How could it be that the school district had become worse since I graduated?

My high school, which is located in a working class Latino suburb bordering Chicago, was overpopulated, underfunded, and in my opinion, incredibly stifling. Needless to say, I resented going there. I felt we were disenfranchised and were not given the same opportunities that affluent schools provided their students.

I should have realized how lucky I really was when I was in college, however. Unlike many of my classmates, I cranked out papers with little difficulty because I knew how to synthesize information and formulate an argument. Writing a thesis statement was a freaking breeze. But at the time I had no idea that these skills were a luxury.

It wasn't until I reunited with my teacher that I realized I actually received a decent education compared to many students today. I had several talented and passionate teachers who had not been entirely bogged down by a bunch of inane educational requirements. No Child Left Behind hadn't completely ruined our already failing education system. My teachers taught me how to analyze and question texts and write thesis statements. I was taught the symbolism of the Mississippi River in Huckleberry Finn. I was taken on after school field trips to movies, poetry readings, and plays. Some of them even encouraged me to question authority. If it weren't for some of these teachers, I never would have become a writer.

But that has all changed now. According to my teacher, budget cuts have made field trips nearly impossible. Not only that, teachers are now so bogged down by administrative nonsense and standardized testing requirements, that it's very difficult to teach children anything but the rote memorization of information. I hear complaints like these all the time from my friends and family members who are teachers. While they are passionate about what they do, they are not given the agency or resources to flourish and engage their students in higher levels of discourse.

One of my family members is a teacher at our former high school and he is frequently exasperated by the efforts devoted to standardized testing. He says:

With so much riding on these exams, schools try to get kids enthused by even having test pep-rallies, assemblies, and programs to promote test-taking strategies and to underscore the tests' importance. This is how the love of learning is being cultivated? This is how we encourage intellectual curiosity?

No Child Left Behind, which was passed in 2001, mandated that states use test scores to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing. Unfortunately, this emphasis on testing had dire consequences. Even initial supporters, such as Diane Ravitch, an education historian and former assistant secretary of education in George Bush senior's administration, realized how detrimental these measures were. She wrote in a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed:

Accountability turned into a nightmare for American schools, producing graduates who were drilled regularly on the basic skills but were often ignorant about almost everything else … This was not my vision of good education.

And Ravitch doesn't believe that Common Core is the solution to this crisis in education either. Now all states must adopt Common Core or similar standards approved by state higher education officials if they want to receive federal waivers from No Child Left Behind. Ravitch feels that these new standards are being imposed on children with little evidence of how they will affect students, teachers, or schools.

"I only see it getting worse", says one of my friends, a fourth grade teacher in Chicago. "Common Core standards have been added to our Illinois testing now, which are much, much more challenging standards. This means learning a whole new test for the teachers and students." Not only are these requirements causing a lot of stress, she says that the materials for the tests are also very expensive. A report from Truthout has outlined Common Core's various corporate connections. Clearly the objective is profit, not a rigorous and nuanced education that will benefit students in the long run.

Why does our education system insist on these kinds of methods when they're clearly not working? Why not emulate Finland, a country with no standardized tests and whose teachers assign less homework and encourage creativity? Finnish students have been turning in some of the highest test scores in the world in the last few years.

Whether it be No Child Left Behind or Common Core, the problem lies in manufactured learning. In teaching English at the university level, I have noticed that students are often ill prepared for the demands of higher education. Students who are used to multiple choice tests lack the skills and the confidence to formulate their own complex opinions and interpretations. It is irresponsible to have these students graduate without the proper skills to succeed.

Rigid curriculums that focus on right and wrong answers teach children to see the world in binaries. These methods don't encourage creativity or innovation. I fear that our deeply flawed education system will produce generations of people who lack critical thinking skills. How can students be expected to become highly skilled or passionate about anything when they're asked to simply regurgitate information? What kind of choices will they make in their adult lives when they have never been taught how to look at the nuances and complexities of situations? Who will have the tools to question authority? Who will question the status quo? How will we compete with other countries when our younger generations have not been encouraged to develop their inquisitiveness and engage with the world?

I fear that our system is failing children by encouraging them to be mindless consumers. High tests scores do not make someone well-educated or well-rounded and memorizing facts does not equal intelligence. Public education should not be a commodity, but a foundation for children to at least have the possibility of succeeding in the world.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery serves many purposes and comes in three forms; each is targeted to different needs. In addition each ASVAB has different benefits and limitations. The ASVAB versions are:

The CAT-ASVAB

A large number of potential military recruits take the CAT-ASVAB. This computer adaptive test is an automated test administration system that displays questions, scores and records answers, scores ASVAB subtests, computes your AFQT, and allows for flexible start times and self-paced responses. This test is given at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) and is used for enlistment purposes only.

The CAT takes about an hour and a half. The exam covers the same sub-tests as the MET-site ASVAB, except the CAT has 10 sub-tests because it divides the Auto Shop subtest into 2 subtests – Auto Information and Shop Information.

Computerized Adaptive Testing means that if the correct answer is chosen, the next question will be harder. If the answer given is incorrect, the next question will be easier. This also means that once an answer is selected on the CAT it cannot be changed.

Although you can speed through the CAT at your own pace, the test does have a time limit. If you finish a subtest before the time limit is reached, you automatically go on to the next test. Unlike the MET-site ASVAB you may leave the test room as soon as you are finished.

Scoring the CAT-ASVAB

Your CAT-ASVAB subtest scores are computed using formulas that take into account the difficulty of the test question and correctness of the answer. Your CAT-ASVAB raw scores are not equal to the total number of correct answers. Test scores are good for two years.

Breaking Down the CAT-ASVAB Sub-Tests
9 SubtestsMinutesQuestionsDescriptions
General Science (GS)816Measures knowledge of life science, earth and space science, and physical science.
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)3916Measures ability to solve basic math problems.
Word Knowledge (WK)816Measures ability to understand the meaning of words through synonyms.
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)2211Measures ability to obtain information from written materials.
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)1816Measures knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.
Electronics Information (EI)816Measures knowledge of electrical current, circuits, devices, and electronic systems.
Auto Information (AI)611Measures knowledge of automotive maintenance and repair.
Shop Information (SI)511Measures knowledge of wood and metal shop practices.
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)2016Measures knowledge of the principles of mechanical devices, structural support, and properties of materials.

The MET-site ASVAB Explained

The MET-site ASVAB is given at a Mobile Examination Test site. This test is used solely for enlistment into one of the military services. Test sites are located in different cities. You will need to be referred by a recruiter to take the MET-site ASVAB.

The MET is an eight area test multiple-choice exam where you write your answer on a separate answer sheet. Since it is a pen and paper test, answers can be changed.  But be sure to completely erase all the changes you make – the answer sheet scanner is very sensitive. You are given a set amount of time, so you must do your best to answer all the questions in the time given. Unlike the CAT-ASVAB, you may not leave the testing room if you finish before the other testers. You should plan on spending several hours at the MET-site when taking this version of the ASVAB.

TIP: GUESS - Your test score is based on the number of items you have answered correctly in the allotted time, you are not penalized for wrong answers. A blank answer is always wrong but if you take a guess at least you have a chance of getting the question right.

Scoring the MET-site ASVAB

The test administrator sends test results back to the MEPS. The MEPS test administrator will give you a sealed envelope, which contains your unverified test scores to take back to your recruiter. Once your answer sheet has been scored at the MEPS, you will be able to get your verified test scores from your recruiter.

8 SubtestsMinutesQuestionsDescriptions
General Science (GS)1125Measures knowledge of life science, earth and space science, and physical science.
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)3630Measures ability to solve basic math problems.
Word Knowledge (WK)1135Measures ability to understand the meaning of words through synonyms.
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)1315Measures ability to obtain information from written materials.
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)2425Measures knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.
Electronics Information (EI)920Measures knowledge of electrical current, circuits, devices, and electronic systems.
Auto & Shop Information (AS)1125Measures knowledge of automotive maintenance and repair and wood and metal shop practices.
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)1925Measures knowledge of the principles of mechanical devices, structural support, and properties of materials.

The Student ASVAB Explained

The Student ASVAB is used for career exploration for high school and college students. This pen and paper test version is given in high schools, colleges, or vocational schools. It is approximately 3 hours and is composed of 8 subtests.

Test results are sent to your school for you and your counselor to explore careers (this is called a post-test interpretation). You will also be given an interest inventory (Find Your Interests). Your ASVAB test results and “Find Your Interests” are tools for you to explore different occupations, identify a college major, and find out about your personality. Your AFQT military qualification score is reflected on your test results and can be used to enlist in any of the military services.

Learn more about the ASVAB Career Exploration Program.

Breaking Down the Student ASVAB Sub-Tests
8 SubtestsMinutesQuestionsDescriptions
General Science (GS)1125Measures knowledge of life science, earth and space science, and physical science.
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)3630Measures ability to solve basic math problems.
Word Knowledge (WK)1135Measures ability to understand the meaning of words through synonyms.
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)1315Measures ability to obtain information from written materials.
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)2425Measures knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.
Electronics Information (EI)920Measures knowledge of electrical current, circuits, devices, and electronic systems.
Auto & Shop Information (AS)1125Measures knowledge of automotive maintenance and repair and wood and metal shop practices.
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)1925Measures knowledge of the principles of mechanical devices, structural support, and properties of materials.
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