A month ago, you may recall, I took the Praxis II, to see if I could get meself certifiable for high school English. I studied quite hard for a month or so and then got sidetracked when I got a job. For ten days before the test, I edged in readings here and there, but I was concerned. I felt like there was so much I didn’t know, but whatever, there was nothing I could do—I couldn’t get my money back, and it cost a shit-ton to change the date.
I went to NC Central’s campus at 7:00 on a Saturday morning, checked in, and sat in the frigid air conditioning, staring at my sharpened #2 pencils until Go Time.
The first test was two hours long, 120 multiple-choice questions. I took the whole time to complete it, but I felt OK. That wasn’t the part I was worried about anyway. It was the essay portion that was giving me agita. Funny, right? I mean, I write all the time. It’s just I nightmared that, of the list of 8-10 works I would be able to choose from, I would know none of them. Like, not even have read the Cliffs Notes.
Also, the second test was two essays, with three parts each, in one hour. One hour! That’s not much time, especially considering we had to hand-write it.
So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I broke the seal on the second test packet and scanned the list of works.
Holla! There were, like, five that I could’ve written about. I chose Grapes of Wrath. I had developed and outlined the three parts of the essay for a bunch of different works in my study sessions, so I jotted some notes and starting blazing through the composition.
About twenty-four minutes into it, I was finished with the first essay. And it was good oh yes it was. Woot! I turned the page, expecting to find the second essay question there; instead, on the top of the page, it said, WRITE PART TWO OF ESSAY #1 HERE.
I flipped the next page. WRITE PART THREE OF ESSAY #1 HERE.
That’s right. I had written all of essay #1 on the pages for part one. That’s when I metaphorically shit my pants.
I took several deep breaths and tried to do damage control. I decided I would write essay #2 and then go back and see what I could do about the first one.
The second essay was an analysis of student writing. I made sure to write each of the three parts on the correct pages, but the tuning forks in my ears weren’t letting me concentrate very well, and my handwriting was totally fucking jacked. The poor scorer must’ve been like, “How did this person develop brachial palsy mid-exam?”
I got done with essay #2 with five minutes to spare and tried to copy parts 2 and 3 of essay #1 into the correct spots, but there was just no way. So I wrote something like, “Please see page 5 heh heh,” on those pages and turned it in.
So for a month, I’ve been alternating between, “Goddammit, I’ma have to pay another $80 to take that part again,” and, “Maybe the standardized test people will, for once in their lives, grow a soul and see that I actually know the material and I’m qualified and they’ll give me a break.”
They didn’t give me a break. Because they’re rotten backstabbing souls. It’s clear from my score report that they gave me full credit for part 1 of essay #1 and that I did really well on essay #2, but they didn’t give me ANY points for that erudite, eloquent shit I wrote on the wrong pages.
BUT the multiple-choice and the essay test scores are combined, and guess who blew the ever-lovin’ roof off the multiple-choice and is therefore certified to teach high school English.