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An Example of a Positive Attitude toward Testing

Your attitude toward tests can predispose you to success or failure.

If you think that you will fail, you will fail.
If you think that you will pass, you will pass.

You are not an innately inferior test taker. The system taught you how to be apprehensive about tests, which in turn has led you to the belief that you're no good at taking tests. There's not much you can do about the system, but you certainly can rid yourself of your negative attitude.

The following story demonstrates the impact of attitude on test taking and results. This is a true account of a very large insurance company and its attempt to have potential new agents pass licensing exams in the state of New Jersey.

Throughout the state of New Jersey, the company was hiring approximately 25 to 30 new agents per month. A condition of employment was that the individual had to have a Life and Health (L&H) insurance agent license, a Property and Casualty (P&C) license and a securities license -- the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Series 6 license.

These new hires were to attend a three-day exam preparation course for the NASD Series 6 exam. The state of New Jersey required that they complete a one-week course prior to taking the L&H exam and a three-week course prior to sitting for the P&C exam.

Managers were sending these new hires to the three-day Series 6 class with the following message: "Go to the class. You won't pass the test the first time, but it's okay. You'll have to wait 30 days to sit for the exam a second time and, during that month, you can complete your one-week L&H class and your three-week P&C class. Then you can retake the Series 6 exam, and you'll do better the second time."

The insurance company's senior management was perplexed by the fact that only 44 percent of the new hires were passing the NASD Series 6 exam on the first try. An analysis of the situation revealed the negative attitude being implanted in the new hire's minds: "You won't pass the test the first time ..."

Basically, the managers were given a cease and desist order: Cease and desist from sending new hires to the Series 6 class with the negative message.

Over a period of approximately six months, as the negative attitudes were slowly changed, the pass rate increased to about 70 percent. The class hadn't changed. The material hadn't changed. The instructors hadn't changed. The new hires were not any smarter. The only thing that changed was the attitude. No longer were these individuals predisposed to failure.

A positive attitude can overcome many obstacles to learning, as well as test taking. If you believe in yourself, prepare for the exam and say to yourself that you will pass this test, chances are excellent that you will indeed pass the exam. But if you approach an exam (as the new agents did in New Jersey) with anxieties and a belief that you won't pass, you probably will fail.