In school, everything seems to start out pretty peachy. We get to play games and sing songs and there is story time and no one is really graded on anything. The idea is to just get used to coming to school and not eating the glue. Basic stuff really.
But then, we are introduced to the red pen. It seems innocent enough, simply something to call our attention to something on the page. But shortly after its introduction we learn to loath the red pen. It becomes our worst enemy to be avoided at all costs.
The reason for this is quite clear. The more red on your sheet the lower your grade and the lower your grade the dumber you look among your fellow compatriots at school. And peer pressure being what it is, you definitely don’t want to be that dummy that gets an F on his test. Grades also have an effect on what university we go to as well.
So, it is no wonder that we start to equate getting something wrong on a test and seeing red marks as a bad thing. But, I’m here to tell you that it is actually a good thing. It’s actually good to get stuff wrong and fail a test. You might think I’m crazy, but here me out on this one.
Learn to Love Red
If you take a test and get all the answers right, you actually don’t get any real benefits from that. Sure, there is the reward of being able to tack it up on your wall and pat yourself on the back. But beyond that did you actually learn anything from taking the test?
On the other hand, if you do get a lot of red back on your test, you’ve learned what you need to review. What you need to take another look at so that you know it for the future. This way you can refine your review process down to what you don’t know.
My students always look up at me with such a sad face when I hand back a sheet with a lot of red on it. But, I always try to leave them a little note that the red on the paper just let’s them know what they need to practice. After all, none of my students are being graded per se, and most of them are studying English because they want to, not because they have to.
The other thing about having a perfect score on a test is that it might be a sign that you are not challenging yourself enough. If you are always passing tests without much effort, then you might want to challenge yourself by doing something a little harder.
These extra challenges can be the thing that pushes you past a plateau in your learning and allow you to improve your language skills. All you have to do is set your sights a little higher to accomplish those goals. By doing so, you will be able to smash through that plateau a lot easier.
That’s one reason why I’m planning on taking the N1 in July. I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail, but setting this impossible goal for myself helps me to put some extra effort into my studies instead of simply lazily going about my studies as I kind of did for the N2 level.
Are you Afraid of Failure?
Have you ever back down from a test because you knew you were going to fail? Have you ever taken a level of the test, but still knew you were going to fail?
Photo by Dagny Scott