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Standardized Tests and You


Dear Student,

It has been a minute. You've been off for spring break, and I took some time to visit my family in Los Angeles. How are you?

Yes, I received your emails sent during my absence. It may take me some time to catch up on all the emails, but I will respond. In the meantime, please read this letter for some general insight to your exam results.

Your email included questions about how to move forward. The score you received on your exam was not what you expected. Despite, putting in the work required to earn an “A, ” you missed the mark.

Standardized tests are one of the many tools that we have as educators to determine students’ comprehension. They are not perfect assessment tools. Many of the current tests are laden with cultural biases and do not measure the skills required to apply your knowledge. Standardized tests often assess the strength of your memory skills, and do not capture the full scope of your intellectual abilities.

Regardless of the inadequacies of standardized tests, you must discover the resources within you to pass.

To earn a medical degree and practice medicine the profession mandates that you demonstrate your preparedness through standardized tests. It is possible to do well on these exams. Others who have scored well on previous exams can serve as your evidence that achievement is doable.

I am not asking you to compare yourself to your peers or others. When we make comparisons between ourselves and others, we often feel inadequate. We make a mistake and think we are not good enough. Awareness of your unique talents, skills, abilities, and interests are essential to success.

Ask yourself this question. Did you exhaust every ethical resource to earn an exam score of 90 or more? If you answered no to this question, this is a pivotal moment.

You may need to do something different. It may require that you read more of the textbook to develop a deeper understanding of the material. A routine review of learning the intended topic before going to bed each night might also prove valuable. Analyze your study habits and determine how to improve.

If you believe that you did do everything possible to earn a high passing score, then even further reflection is required. Do you want to be a doctor? Are you pursuing a medical degree out of family tradition or your desires? Meditate on your reasons for becoming a doctor.

Reflection can help you to re-center yourself on your goals, identify helpful strategies, and provide you with additional clarity.

I need you to know that multiple factors are impacting your ability to do well on standardized tests. You may not be as driven as you think you are to become a doctor. It’s also possible that you attended a school that did not prepare you to do well on these exams. You may not want to admit it, but could there be something else for you to do with your life? Take a moment and think about what you want in life.

I believe you have greatness inside you. Your dream to become a practicing physician is achievable. What do you believe? In the end, it is not about my perceptions of your abilities. Think about what you believe about yourself.

Let’s talk again soon,

Dr. Lindsay


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