The Test

November 7, 2008
By
Finals week. This is the week all students worried about the most. This week would make or break a grade, or an entire year’s worth of work. The kids tried their hardest to study all they could, to take in as much knowledge as possible before the first bell would ring for their first test. Everyone tried hard, except for Allen. Allen was the laid back, “no worries” kind of kid. His scruffy brown hair and even scruffier brown beard gave the impression that he took it easy, not really concerned with anything. Despite his laid back personality, Allen still managed to obtain good grades on everything he did. Somehow he could cruise along, and at the end of the year bring his grades up. Sure, he didn’t have the perfect 4.0 grade point average, but he knew how to cheat the system and knew how to get his way – something most hard working kids despised him for.

When it came to cheating the system, he literally cheated the system. He would always find obscure and ingenious ways of cheating on whatever test he needed to take, thus nullifying the need to ever study. He viewed cheating as more of just a challenge to be met, or a task to be achieved. The bigger and more important the test, the bigger and more delightful the challenge. His methods were devious. He could use his hands, his arms, his water bottle, his calculator, his cell phone, and even the backs of other students to cheat his way to success. All this cheating didn’t bother his conscious at all. He rationalized that cheating was just another way of getting things done, and only the smart kids could get away with it. Therefore, he was smart and school was actually teaching him something.

He didn’t have to cheat on every test though. He was pretty good in history, Spanish, and health. He did however need help in math and physics, and those were the classes he planned on cheating in. Finals week meant he had just one more test, just one more challenge in each class before he could graduate and go onto college. The day finally arrived for him to take his Spanish and history test. While other classmates were anxious and scared, Allen breathed easy and kept on smiling. He could do these tests, no problem. He skimmed through his Spanish test, even helping others to cheat off him. His history test went even smoother, and now all he had to do was get through the next day. His health final would be fine, no need to worry there. His physics and math finals were what concerned him the most (even though it was just a slight concern). In his free time after his history test, he plotted his ideas on how to make it through the tests. He knew his math teacher was old, and that obtaining a copy of the test early may be an easy thing to do. His physics teacher, however, was smart. He knew that Allen cheated. He knew most of Allen’s tricks. On the other hand, Allen knew his teacher. Allen knew that his teacher was watching his every move. He just had to think of a way of pulling it off.

After the final bell rang, Allen headed straight for room 106 – his math class. He waited outside the hallway until Mr. Thomas, the old and senile math teacher, left the room. He quietly slipped by him as he closed the door, and waited until the coast was clear before moving towards the teacher’s desk. He knew the final had to be close. He searched Mr. Thomas’ desk, filing cabinets, and finally his computer. He couldn’t find a hard copy of the test, but for some reason Mr. Thomas had the answers to both versions stored in a word document on his computer. “Too easy,” thought Allen as he pressed print. He quickly grabbed the paper, arranged the room back to the way it was, and walked back out the door, unseen.

His next objective was physics. How was he going to pull that off? He couldn’t steal a hard copy, there’s no way Mr. Wiseman would leave it behind. He couldn’t just write answers on his arm; the teacher would check before handing the test to him. He knew the teacher would situate the class to the point where cheating off another person’s paper would be impossible. He knew he wouldn’t be able to talk; the room would be too quiet and Mr. Wiseman would be watching him like a hawk. His cell phone was out of the question because Mr. Wiseman always took them before the test. He went home to think about preparations. After sitting and mulling over his thoughts for quite a long time, it finally hit him. His calculator. He could use his high-tech graphing calculator. His calculator could store information and he could save them into notes. He started on his little project right away. He wrote down almost everything he could. He even went so far as to jumble the letters and add in math symbols almost like a code, so that even if he was caught, the teacher may not realize that what was on his calculator was actually helping him. He finished his notes and went to bed satisfied with what he had done.

The next morning he woke up happy and confident. Today was quite possibly his biggest challenge yet, and the rewards would be bountiful. He ate a good breakfast, and headed to school. His first test that day was math. Since he had already obtained a copy of the test and worked on it at home, he came completely prepared and ready to ace it. He received the test, finished it before anyone else, and sat back down in his chair with almost a heroic arrogance about him. Other students knew that somehow, someway, he had cheated. They tried to get their jealousy out of mind, and continue their tests. His next test was health. Health actually interested him, so taking this test was something he found to be easy. His main focus was the test just ahead – the physics test. He entered Mr. Wiseman’s room and immediately received a cold chill down his spine. Mr. Wiseman made direct eye contact with Allen as he walked in and took his seat.

“I hope you all have studied,” said the teacher, almost smiling at Allen. “Today’s test is not easy, and it is still worth a large part of your grade. There will be no talking. I’ll come around soon to collect your cell phones, which I know you all have. If I suspect your cheating, your test will be ripped to shreds, and you will not retake it. Good luck.”

Allen was now focused. He knew that this was his one chance; and it would either make or break him. He laid his calculator out on his desk, pulled out his pencils and waited patiently. He tried not to pay too much attention to the calculator. He knew that the teacher was watching him and him alone, and any sort of irregular behavior towards the calculator would set him off. The test came in two parts. The first, a multiple choice and short answer section, was what worried Allen the most. The second, the math portion, was no big deal. It came down to one section, one test, one day. They were both passed out at the same time, and Allen decided to start with the math section first. His reason for doing this was two-fold: First, it was the easier part. Other students were starting there too, so it wouldn’t be abnormal for him to do it either. Second, his answers were on his calculator. He figured that at the very least he could use the calculator for a quick cram session before he went on to the multiple choice section. He quickly breezed through the math, while every now and then looking to see what Mr. Wiseman was doing. And every time he looked, he saw the same thing: Mr. Wiseman looking back at him. Now that he was done with the math, his true test came. Allen was fully aware of the fact that he didn’t know anything on the multiple choice section. He was flying blind, and the only thing to guide him was his calculator. He was faced with a choice. He could either study off his calculator while “going over his answers” on the math section, or he could move on to the multiple choice and try risking looking up the answers. He chose both. He figured he could study a little bit, and then use the calculator for answers he just couldn’t remember. When he was done cramming, he noticed that Mr. Wiseman was now pacing the room, and his concentration wasn’t solely focused on Allen. Seeing this took about 20 pounds of stress off Allen, and he continued on.
He could slightly remember some of the answers as they were presented, and just skipped the ones he couldn’t even guess at. As he neared the end of his test, he noticed other students finishing and turning in theirs, and he knew he had to hurry in order to stay as inconspicuous as possible. He neared the finish of the test, and now it was time to check his answers. His palms were sweaty and his legs were bouncing in a nervous way. He was sending clear signals to Mr. Wiseman, who picked up on them and returned focus to Allen. Allen would try and cleverly get his hand over his calculator and read his answers. It worked for many, but sometimes he felt the pressure so much that he chose to blindly guess. He was nervous to say the least, but he was almost done. Three, then two, and onto the last question he came when Mr. Wiseman suddenly picked up his calculator and began reading it.
“Hmmm…” he said as he looked at the calculator, then at Allen. “What’s this all about Allen? These aren’t answers are they?” He asked. All eyes were now on Allen as his face turned bright red and he began to swallow his nervousness.
“No sir they’re not. That’s just my work from the Math section.”
“Well why were you so intent on looking at it during the test?”
“I wasn’t. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Mr. Wiseman at that point wasn’t really sure what to do. The sweat was almost rolling off of Allen’s face, and the tension in the air was palpable. Mr. Wiseman finally gave up. “Allen you’re lucky,” he said as he took Allen’s test and turned it in for him. Allen, along with the other students, couldn’t believe it. Mr. Wiseman was so incredibly close to catching Allen but he just couldn’t do it. The bell rang and Allen was slow to get out of his seat. He was still in shock. That night he was with his friends, all the while worrying. He just couldn’t believe he had made it. He had been through this kind of situation before, but this time was different. He wasn’t at all happy or proud of what he had done. He felt bad and didn’t want to experience that ever again. He knew college was just around the corner, and that his high school days of cheating were over, and he was relieved. He figured he could start fresh and just start doing the work he had avoided and cheated for so long. He promised to never cheat on anything ever again, ever.





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