I did not take any “test prep” courses until facing the Bar Exam which, in Michigan, involves the Multistate Bar Exam (an engineered, multiple-guess device) used in tandem with written essay questions to determine whether individuals should, or should not, be licensed to practice law. A sufficiently high Multistate score results in “passing” without a review of the essays. A lower score requires a review of the essays, with passing dependent upon the blend of Multistate and essay scores being high enough.
I took two different Bar Exam prep course because I wanted to protect my investment of three years of my life and a lot of money spent attending law school. One was specific to the Multistate, and the other covered both the Multistate and essay questions. Those running the courses were quite explicit – taking practice Multistate tests would result in a higher score than would no practice.
Along with hundreds of others taking Michigan’s licensure exam that year, I spent thousands of dollars on prep courses. The same certainly held true for every other state of the Union. I am certain some were unable to afford the prep courses – I have no idea how they performed, but speculate they did not perform as well as those who had money available.
Through the prep courses, I learned nothing that would assist me in being a “better” attorney. I learned the tricks of test taking – I passed on the Multistate score alone.
Thomas Malthus, were he living, might comment on the function of standardized tests. He might say they are “make work” made to stabilize class stratification and to make money for some. He might note they throttle back social advancement because there are limited resources at the end of the rainbow. He might say they are a constructed population control device.
What do you think?