Three Ways to Fail A Multiple Choice Test When You Know the Answer

In front of me there was an intelligent young man proficient in Krav Maga and about to become a top notch personal trainer. He's one of my students at Heritage College and I'm about to administer the written test for him to recertify his CPR, which he had let lapse by a few days. He was in the Isralei armed forces and has actually rescued a number of people. Talking to him before the test, as he described his rescue experiences, it is clear that he knows his stuff. He speaks about it passionately and rattles off all the procedures in the CPR manual. Confidently, I hand him the test only to find that he misses one question too many to pass. I look at what he missed and it makes no sense to me. I know he knew the answer. What happened?

We talk and he explains that in Israel tests determine your future upon graduation and that everyone takes them very seriously. He said that multiple choice tests are derogatorily referred to as American tests because they are too easy. Consequently, on the rare occasion they are ever used in Israel; they always contain a trick. He was missing questions because he was reading into them the most improbable of scenarios in his quest to find the trick.

As parents, every day we make choices that effect our families. Life is in a way a multiple choice test with the best answer, an obviously wrong answer, and perhaps two answers that are not quite as good as that best answer. Many times a day we make choices about what's important and how to spend our time. We may stay away from the obviously wrong answer but fall for the good enough answer. Here are three reasons why that might happen:

1. Going No Where in a Big Hurry

You've maybe heard this one as tending to the urgent instead of the important. We settle for less than what a day could bring because we have too low of expectations. We are just trying to get through our mental to do list without giving thought to how we are impacting the lives around us. A small word of encouragement here or there might have far reaching effects. Helping someone make a decision by sharing your own experiences might help them avoid pitfalls you've fallen into. It's important for us to believe that we have something to contribute and slow down enough to recognize the opportunity to do so.

2. Exhaustion

Everyone knows it's a good idea to get a good night's sleep before a big test. People who lose sleep on a regular basis will have foggy thinking,gain weight and age more quickly. We need deep, high quality sleep to have energy and enthusiasm for life. We need it to repair physically and mentally. If we fail to take care of ourselves in this fundamental way, we will likely fail, period.

3. Choosing What's Easy Instead of What's Best

How did fast foods get such a hold on the American diet which we are now sharing with the rest of the world? They are easy, that's how. Next to that fast food establishment might be a grocery store filled with better choices but we are too lazy to get out of the car, walk in and find a better choice. It's not that hard but we take the easy way instead and pay the price with our health and energy levels.

So how do we turn this around? My student was able to understand that the test was straight forward and pass it on a second try. Similarly, we get a fresh chance everyday. Healthy choices are pretty straight forward. Most people understand that an apple is a better choice than a doughnut. Most people understand that a few minutes talking with your children is time better spent than time in front of the television. So, know what you want to accomplish and believe you can do it. Get some rest. Prioritize sleep tonight. Make the best choice instead of taking the easy way out. You know the answer. It's time to live like it.

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