Testing Testing 1,2,3

While we love to emphasize all of the fun and enjoyable things we have here at the library, sometimes you just gotta get serious. It would be great if we could all just read a great book, watch the latest TV series, or play a cool video game all day, every day. Sadly the adult world always comes knocking.  

And nothing is more adult than taking a crucial test, or learning a new skill in order to advance a real world career. While you might not think of the library as the first place to look when it comes to test prep and skill learning, we actually have a lot of great resources to help you: even in this mostly online world. Read on to learn about four of them, and make sure to check out our Job, Career & Test Prep page for even more. 

Learning Express 

This excellent and comprehensive database has lots of targeted practice guides that can help you do well on specific exams in several fields. The High School Equivalency Center covers the GED (in both English and Spanish), HiSet and TASC exams. The College Admissions Test Center has test prep for the ACT, SAT, PSAT, AP, TOEFL and many more. The Career Preparation Center has tons of test prep in many career areas including Cosmetology, the CDL license, Military, Nursing, and Teaching to name but a few. Be sure to check out the Welcome page for even more resources.  

GCF Learn Free 

This resource is all about improving your computer and technology skills through tutorials both specific and general. Specific tutorials to make you proficient in programs such as Microsoft Office, including Excel and Word, web browsers, email and computers in general are included. In addition there are tutorials on core math, reading and work skills to get you up to speed. 

Khan Academy 

The Khan Academy does provide great resources for studying for specific tests but really shines in providing full blown courses and in depth skill building on a wide range of topics. These are all very detailed but allow you to study and complete them at your own pace. Just click on the Courses button on the top left to see the huge diversity of topics and subject areas, from basic to in depth. 

Driving Tests 

While it would be nice if public transportation could get us everywhere we needed to go, being able to drive is actually a crucial skill when it comes to getting and keeping a job in Washington State. Finding good study materials for the driving test, however, can be difficult. This database fills in the gap with extensive study material and test prep for getting your driver’s license. It also has study material for a CDL license and all is available in both English and Spanish. 

A Serious Vocational Error

One of the great things about reading fiction is the way you can visit a person’s, admittedly fictional, life and experience the world from a different angle. I’ve always found stories to be much more helpful in dealing with the trials and tribulations of everyday existence than the numerous self-help and motivation works out there. Perhaps this is delusional and a tad unhealthy (you don’t want to pattern your life too closely on Mr. Kurtz after all ) but hey, it is the way I roll. I recently read three novels that let me examine different career paths and made me feel good about my own career choice. Ah the power of negative reinforcement.

The job: Middle school teacher
The book: Confessions by Kanae Minato

confessionsThis novel opens with Yuko Moriguchi’s farewell address to her middle school science class upon her early retirement. The reason she is leaving is the recent accidental death of her 4-year-old daughter on school grounds. As the address continues, however, it becomes clear that Yuko believes some of her students are responsible.  She also doesn’t believe the criminal justice system is up to the job of punishing them due to their young age. This is no simple tale of revenge, however.  The narrative shifts, with each chapter being from a different character’s point of view. This keeps you guessing as to what actually happened and who is really to blame until the very end. Even then, what is right and what is wrong isn’t entirely clear. A good book for testing your moral compass. It will also make you happy not to have chosen a career in secondary education.

The job: Office drone
The book: The Room by Jonas Karlsson

theroomBjorn, yes this book is a Swedish translation, shares a desk in an open office plan in a government ministry simply titled ‘the Authority.’ One day, while looking for the bathroom, he stumbles upon a room which is spacious and well appointed. To get away from the office hubbub and concentrate on his work, he frequently visits this room. The problem? No one else can see it. Even worse, when he enters the room, all that his fellow officer workers see is Bjorn staring at the wall and mumbling. It doesn’t take very long for objections to be raised, meetings to be held, and threats of termination to be bandied about. The entire novel is from Bjorn’s perspective, so there are definitely surreal elements that will have you questioning what exactly is going on. Primarily though, it is a funny and biting office satire that will leave you chuckling as well as scratching your head.

The job: Estate agent
The book: A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan

apleasureandacallingWilliam Hemming does not suffer from job dissatisfaction. He loves showing people new homes to buy or rent in the small English town where he owns an estate agency. His job allows him to indulge in a rather odd hobby. Mr. Hemming keeps a key from every property he sells and likes to make return visits, unbeknownst to the owners. He is obsessed with viewing the minutiae of his clients’ everyday activities (making breakfast, doing laundry) but as a detached observer who never gets involved in their lives. The novel is entirely from Mr. Hemming’s point of view and you find yourself chuckling at his observations of small town life. When his darker side is slowly revealed, and his detachment turns into involvement with deadly consequences, you may feel guilty for laughing along. At the very least, it will make you consider having your locks changed at home.

So is using fiction to choose a career a sound policy? Perhaps not, but it sure beats going to a guidance counselor.