Hello everyone, if you’ve read my post Charging Through you know I’ve been struggling with something for quite some time. That something is called the Praxis. For those of you who do not know, the Praxis is an exam that needs to be taken in order to become a teacher. This test is required in the state of New Jersey and the specific test I’ve been taking is the Mathematics content. Basically, if I wanted to become a high school teacher, which I do, I’d have to pass this test. In the post Charging Through I go into detail on exactly what it is I feel when I go to take this test, or any very important test. To sum it up, I feel panicked, my breath becomes shallow, my heart quickens, the room spins and as all this goes on my mind goes blank and I forget anything and everything that has to do with mathematics. So surely you can see how difficult it must be to take an exam if I’m feeling like one hot mess.
In the post Charging Through I not only explain my on going struggle with the exam, but I also shared the fact that I felt a bit hopeless. You see, I’ve failed this test time and time again. I’ve come so close to passing (3-4 points away) several times and it was so discouraging to be so close but yet so far. The worst part of this all is I should have already graduated from college but because of this exam I’ve been put back semesters because I can’t finish my final college step until I passed this test….frustrating.
If you’ve read the Charging Through post you also would have read that although I’ve felt like I’ve hit rock bottom and although I felt that as though it was pointless to take the exam again, I was still going to keep trying. I committed to studying, studying way more than I ever had. I committed to practicing things I haven’t practiced in years. I committed to looking up definitions that I haven’t in awhile. Most of all, I committed to take the exam once again.
After that post, I became extremely committed. I would go into work each and everyday with my giant packets to study, my pens, my pencils and my calculator. Although I was at work, I spent a majority of the time looking down at my books, studying, remembering, analyzing and figuring things out. I signed up for Khan Academy and started to study things that I struggled with in the past or with things that I had forgotten. I honestly completely focused on my exam beyond more than I focused on what was going on in the classroom in front of me (oops, bad substitute). Most students knew, the students I spoke to often knew exactly what I was doing, I was studying, I was studying for the exam that I so struggled with. Each day the students would come in and ask me when I’m taking the test and if I’m ready. Each day students would say “Ms. F, you need to pass this test.” They were right.
March 17, 2017 I was sitting in the faculty lounge when the topic of the Praxis came up. I told the teachers around me that I was actually taking it the following day, March 18, 2017. They all knew my struggle with exams. Some teachers suggested that I visit a doctor to get anxiety medication for the exam, other teachers said I should visit a doctor in order to get a notice saying I need an extension of time on the test since I’m so nervous for a majority of it, other teachers said I needed a change of attitude. A change of attitude I thought to myself? I consider myself a calm person, sometimes that is, when my mind isn’t racing wildly. This specific teacher told me that I need to change my attitude from calm yet nervous and anxious to more confident. She told me I needed to become angry with the test. Angry? I thought, I mean I was angry with this test but probably more angry with myself for not being able to pass it. She finished her advice by saying that I need “to make that test [my] bitch.” (Excuse the language but those were her words.) I smiled and pondered her advice.
March 18, 2017 came rolling around. I slept like a baby the night before, which is very different already compared to the previous times I’ve taken the test. I woke up happy, filled with joy, again different from other times. It was Saturday, I clean the house on Saturday’s so I went about my business and cleaned the house while listening to music. I cleaned, I danced, I sang, I was happy. I felt as if I had no worries. As I was finishing cleaning I kept repeating to myself “you’re going to make this test your bitch”, “be angry with the test”, “be confident, you got this.” I repeated those three sayings so many times in one single day that it was about the only thing rolling through my mind.
One o’clock came rolling around and it was time for me to get on the road to the test. I started my drive and I wasn’t shaking, shockingly. I didn’t feel the need to cry, another shocker. I continued my drive and as I listened to Ed Sheeran I sang along and during breaks or pauses I would remind myself that today would be the day I would pass this dreadful exam.
I made it all the way to the place where I was to take my exam and for some odd reason I was still as happy as I woke up. I went up the elevator, took my usually pre-exam bathroom break and then went inside. When I got there the man at the desk told me I would need to fill out the paper saying I wouldn’t disclose any information on the test and I told him “yeah, I know, I know.” He told me “you’ve been here before right?” I said “yes, I’m hoping today is my last time here” he replied with “why, we will miss you?!” to which I said “I’m tired of this test and I just want to pass it.” I filled out my paper, took my mugshot, oh I mean picture, yes, they make us take a webcam photo before entering, I went through my screening, yes, we have to be scanned with one of those airport detectors and walked into the testing room. I still wasn’t nervous. I sat at my computer clicked continue a million times, I didn’t need to reread the instructions or directions, trust me, this wasn’t my first rodeo.
I began my exam still repeating the words that the teachers had said to me. I did 10 questions so quickly without a single ounce of nervousness, I couldn’t believe it. Then the rest of the questions came and I slowly grew more nervous because the exam was becoming more and more difficult. I tried to take a few deep breaths but I slowly felt the anxiety creeping in. I had 40 minutes left to the test and still so much unanswered, I became cold, I became shakey, I began to breathe deep heavy breaths. The doubt and negativity started to fill my mind. I said to myself “well, you failed again, just face it, you have 40 minutes left, so much unanswered and you have no idea how to do some of these problems.” One of the workers came to stand near me, I was unsure why but he stood there for awhile. I got more nervous, did he think I was cheating because I had suddenly became very fidgety?
The timer started blinking, I had 5 minutes left to finish about 10 questions, impossible? Yes, probably for an exam this difficult. I had no idea how to do some of the problems and therefore I just took wild guesses. On questions where I thought I could figure out if I just took a few breathes and calmed down I focused more on. I had 1 minute left….I guessed on my final question and told myself once again “okay, you failed…just suck it up, you’ll get em next time tiger.” I clicked continue, I clicked report scores, I clicked report scores again (yes, they make you click it twice to insure you want them to send it.) I took a deep breath and told myself “it’s okay that you failed, you were a lot calmer up until the last hour of the exam” and then I told myself “you’ll get it next time.” The screen revealing my raw score popped up and it said “RAW SCORE: 160.” My eyes widened and I thought “160?!?!?! Exactly 160?!! I need a 160 to pass the test!!! I passed!!!” I jumped out of my seat, filled with joy and disbelief too! I went outside to grab my stuff. I was still in such shock, I couldn’t believe it. The man that was standing by me for some time questioned me, he told me he was worried about me and asked me if I was okay, I suppose it was clear that I was having a panic attack. I told him I was fine and left the building with butterflies all throughout my body. I couldn’t believe it.
I didn’t want to get ahead of the game, the exam made it clear that it was a raw score and although typically raw scores don’t go down or up that much, I still didn’t want to celebrate too much. It’s been a very very very nerve wrecking couple of weeks as I’ve been awaiting for the final results…well guys, I got my final results last Friday….I did it!!! I passed!!!
I want to thank all of you who supported me and sent me so many encouraging words and stories on my Charging Through post, without knowing you all did help me a lot. I want to thank you so so so so much for taking the time out of your day for sharing your wisdom and sharing your struggles to!
I DID IT, I FINALLY DID IT!
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”