So, a couple of years ago I took part in the PISA -examination. Finland has very often topped these exams in multiple different areas and stayed in the top 10 countries for tens of years now, so there really wasn’t any pressure to be noticed. The students to perform the exams are chosen by random, from a random amount of schools worldwide. Every performing student is also 15 year old. For those of you who do not know, PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) aims to record reliable data from the level of students all over the world. Examinations from different years put weight on different subjects, the 2012 examinations were about reading, mathematics and science. I took part in the “creative problem solving” category.

So there I was, sitting by a table in our schools cafeteria 8 o’clock in the morning, waiting for the testing to start. Before we were directed to our computer class, everybody was given bread and juice to serve as some sort of a breakfast. It wasn’t anything too great, but the idea was good. After a bit of waiting, we sat down to the computers pointed to us and after a brief explanation we were allowed to begin.

The questions were rather simple, but they weren’t the ordinary ones you’d have in a normal school exam. The questions measured more your base intelligence and the way your skills could adapt to new situations. For example there were a couple of questions based on simulations, where you’d have to fill data tables and figure out rules how the data reacted based on simulations you could make on your computer.

The school I attended at the time was not the best available. Because of its central location there were students who actually were interested in good grades and learning things to help them forward in life, but then there were also students who put minimal effort into school for reasons still unknown to me. This also could be seen during the PISA examinations.

A guy just a couple of computers left of me sprinted through the first part of the examination in 5 minutes and then asked to leave. He didn’t get permission, so he just sat there reading magazines for 1 hour 55 minutes and then ran off to get lunch. The same happened on the examinations second half. 5 minutes of working — 115 minutes of reading magazines. I have no idea why he did it, but he did. Maybe the whole examination thing just didn’t interest him.

I find the PISA-examinations a great way to find where upon our great planet the teaching is the finest and the pupils the most motivated. But the thin red line between the two is really hard to distinguish and won’t be found by the means of PISA-examinations. I am sure that at least Finland’s test results would change drastically if only the motivated pupils would be selected to the testing. But maybe that’s our problem, maybe that’s what we would have to change.