The test itself sounded fairly standard, save for one surprise.
Mrs. Lewis briefly explained how there were five sections to complete. Mathematics, Reading, Science, History, and Religion. Amelia must have been more transparent than she normally considered herself, as the woman immediately assured her to not stress about the non-academic one. Not every new arrival had a Christian upbringing, and the religion section of the test shouldn’t be any more stressful than the rest. There’s no passing or failing, after all, as the aptitude test is merely designed to highlight each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
Even when she was given the explanation, Amelia was taken aback at how a fifth of the test was on something like that. She knew from her research that Westridge had daily chapel and a handful of basic religion classes. It was an old fashioned school, and a private one at that; public schools would never get away with that. But to make it part of the placement process? Odd. Hopefully her poor results would dissuade the administration from putting her in charge of any of those classes. Amelia went to church here and there growing up, but that was about it. Save for Christmas and Easter, religion hadn’t been part of her life at all since she left for undergrad.
She didn’t have much time to dwell on those thoughts, as it was time for her test to begin. Each section would be timed, as Mrs. Lewis explained, but this would be a little different than if it was a whole grade being tested. Since Amelia was on her own, she was permitted to finish a section early if she wished. However, that would not grant her additional time on other sections. And, in proper teacher fashion, Mrs. Lewis also told her to be sure that she was finished before asking for an early end. There’s no shame in using extra time to review answers. The best students often do just that.
“Got it,” Amelia said.
This was all so extra. She understood the concept of empathizing with the students that Mrs. Thompson had presented to her, but did she really have to go through all this? The schoolgirl uniform made her constantly fidget in discomfort, and occasionally blush when she caught a glimpse of the plaid skirt and remembered all over again that she was no longer wearing the classy outfit she arrived in. More than anything, she wished she could take off the tight flats for the duration of the test, but that wouldn’t look particularly professional.
And how much time was this test wasting? She would much prefer to be observing the first class of the day, or meeting (and sucking up to) other staff and administration. Instead, she was going step by step through a new student’s first day, save for perhaps the way she changed after arriving on campus instead of showing up in uniform like the average girl would. Rules were rules, as Ashley reminded her, and this was apparently the price to pay in order to earn a job at the prestigious school. She would suck it up, and forever be grateful that she didn’t attend a boarding school herself growing up. Wearing the same outfit every day? It would be awful.
“Alright,” Mrs. Lewis said, “Good luck, Amelia. You may turn to section one, and your time begins now.”
Amelia did as she was instructed. The first section was MATHEMATICS, as noted by the bold section header at the top of the page. Underneath, in smaller text, noted once again that this was for 7th grade, and had a duration of twenty minutes.
At first, she didn’t expect to take nearly that long to knock out what she assumed would be simple equations. Amelia had always been decent with numbers, at least at the pre-university levels. However, the difficulty of the aptitude test hit her fairly quickly. What seemed like easy questions ended up almost tricking her a few times with how deceptive the multiple choice options were. After noticing the tricky pattern, she made sure to pay careful attention before committing to each answer.
And those were the easy questions.
The further Amelia got into the math section, the more vividly she remembered her own middle school years. It wasn’t just triangles and equations. A good portion of her 7th grade classes involved graphs, and it had been nearly ten years since she had solved such problems. Even as an Education Major, it’s not like she was relearning stuff like that during her undergrad years.
She tried her best to work things out on the scratch paper provided, but ultimately ended up making a few educated guesses as Mrs. Lewis called out how much time remained every few minutes. And, while Amelia felt a bit self conscious about the fact that she wasn’t ace-ing the test like she thought she would, she reminded herself that this was supposed to be about strengths and weaknesses. Making the aptitude test too easy wouldn’t be conducive to placing students in the appropriate classes. Still, it would be nice to have an impressive score, as she assumed that taking the test in full wasn’t just a formality; the administration would probably see her score and take that into account in terms of the hiring process.
If Amelia didn’t do well on a test literally designed for middle schoolers, that would no doubt reflect poorly on her.
Only a minute or so after she finished filling in the answer bubble for the last question, Mrs. Lewis called, “time.” Amelia had been doing a quick scan of the problems she had been less sure about, and couldn’t believe how little extra time she ended up having. If this woman proctoring the test talked about her later, how would it look? Potentially good, if she was viewed as the kind of girl who spent all her time working instead of rushing through. Or potentially bad, if she took so long and still ended up with a good chunk of wrong answers.
Amelia wasn’t normally the anxious type, but she could already feel the self-doubt creeping in.
And there were still four sections to go.
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Stories of Age/Time Transformation