No Comprendo!

“Get your number two pencils out. Nothing else, just your number two pencils.” At that point the nun teaching the class would go to the child who was never prepared for anything and take away his ink pen, or other pencil, or other writing instrument that was unauthorized to complete the Iowa Test of Basic Skills [ITBS] ‘score card.’ Sharpies had not been invented, yet.

Most students in Iowa, and across the nation might be familiar with the ITBS. “The ITBS tests are designed for kindergarten through 8th grade students and include nine themes: vocabulary, word analysis, listening, reading comprehension, language, math, social studies, science, and sources of information.”

I can remember Sister Williametta being very proud of me that I scored in the ninety-ninth percentile of the social studies category, and above ninety in every other category – except reading comprehension. My scores on reading comprehension were in the thirties. As of this day, I can’t imagine how that could happen. But I have a theory.

In order to complete the math questions about a train leaving Philadelphia at 3:00 pm traveling west at 50 mph, and a train leaving St. Louis at 5:00 pm traveling east at 40 mph, etc., you have to comprehend what the question is seeking and produce the correct answer. I aced those questions that require some comprehension. So why did I not do well in comprehension?

The New York Times recently posted a few new questions of the recently revised SAT exam. It’s all digital now. I got around SAT testing by taking a class here, a college class there, and a college class in between. When it came time for entrance exam it was obvious that I could achieve at the college level. So, I accepted the challenge to try a few questions on the part of the exam that the NY Times provided. I failed comprehension.

There have been people who insist that I may have ADHD, ADD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I have never been diagnosed with any of the mental deficiencies, but I probably have or still experience symptoms of each. Although I am not a behavioral health professional [thank God], I do believe the low scores on comprehension have something to do with one or more of those three mental disorders. So what? I manage to enjoy life.

Give me something challenging that doesn’t have to do with mechanical tinkering and I will try to work on it, like the trains above. But comprehend some boring story in which I’m given a sentence or two. Forget it. Boring! Often, I can see where two answers appear to be the same.

I haven’t changed much since 7th grade. Oh, I can comprehend what I write, or read a book and comprehend the storyline. However, I continue to procrastinate, get lost in thoughts, and move to a different task before finishing another.

By the way, if you think the answer to the train question is Indianapolis, you could be correct. But I would need more information, such as: how many stops did each train make? Each must have had to switch crews, refuel, wait for a coal train (coal trains have priority), or switch boxcars on a siding before reaching their respective destination. I always thought of those possibilities.

Don’t think too much. And “get that eraser out of your mouth!”


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