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End the Unfair SBAC Test

End the Unfair SBAC Test

The SBAC test is an unfair high stakes high failure rate test being forced on students here in Washington state. This category includes articles on why we should get rid of the SBAC test. It also includes articles on why we should oppose House Bill 2214 which would accelerate the SBAC test monopoly from the Class of 2019 to the Class of 2016.

Recently, a study of 8,000 students in Alaska confirmed that there is no relationship between any high stakes tests and college achievement. Zero. None. The only reliable predictor of college success is a student’s high grade point average. Previous studies of more than 100,000 students in California and New York found the same thing. If you want to promote College Readiness, High School Grades matter. High stakes tests do not. This is why students should be focusing on doing well in their courses rather than doing well on an unreliable invalid test. This is also why most states in the US have abandoned forcing students to pass a high stakes test in order to graduate.


fb test
Sadly, some in the Washington State legislature still have not gotten this message. The good news is that a bill delinking high stakes testing from graduation, House Bill 1046, was passed by the House Education Committee on January 26 2017. Here is who voted for this bill: Santos, Dolan, Stonier, Harris, Muri, Bergquist, Caldier, Johnson, Kilduff, Lovick, McCaslin, Ortiz-Self, Senn, Slatter, Springer, Steele and Volz. Voting against this important bill were: Hargove and Stokesbary. On February 21, 2017, House Bill 1046 passed out of the House Appropriations Committee. Those voting for this bill included: Ormsby, Robinson, Chandler, MacEwen, Bergquist, Caldier, Cody, Condotta, Fitzgibbon, Haler, Hansen, Harris, Hudgins, Jinkins, Kagi, Manweller, Nealey, Pettigrew, Pollet, Sawyer, Schmick, Senn, Springer, Stanford, Sullivan, Taylor, Tharinger, Vick and Volz. Those voting against were: Stokesbary, Buys, Lytton and Wilcox. On February 28 2017, House Bill 1046 was approved by the House Rules Committee and sent to the House Floor. As of March 5, 2017, it is #38 out of 126 bills currently on the House Floor. The bad news is that it must be voted on and passed by the House by the House deadline of Wednesday March 8th. The bill has an emergency clause meaning that it will take effect immediately to help students graduate in June 2017 who have met all other graduation requirements except one or more of the three high stakes tests (Biology, Math and English).

How many Seniors will be harmed if House Bill 1046 is not passed?
We know from the Class of 2016 that over 1000 students were temporarily denied a diploma due to failure to pass the Biology High States test – even though they had all passed their Biology course. Because the Math and English tests have a higher failure rate than the Biology test, we can estimate that about 2,000 students will fail each of these tests – even though they passed their Math and English courses. The problem is that some students are simply bad at taking high pressure tests. They freeze up – even though they do well in completing their homework, get good grades and will likely do well in college. There are about 80,000 students in the Class of 2017. About 20% or 16,000 students will not graduate because they dropped out of school and/or did not complete their required courses. Thus, even if this bill passes, the graduation rate will still only be 80% statewide. However, if this bill does not pass, then an additional 5,000 students will be severely harmed by ridiculous irrelevant, invalid and time consuming high stakes tests – dropping the graduation rate to about 74%. It is time to end this insane focus on unreliable, unfair, over-priced high stakes tests. Please pass House Bill 1046.

David Spring M. Ed.
Coalition to Protect Our Public Schools.org 
I am currently working on a report on the (lack of) reliability and validity of the SBAC Common Core test. To make a long story short, there is no evidence that the SBAC test is either reliable or valid. In fact, there is a mountain of evidence that the SBAC test is not reliable or valid or fair or accurate. But we will get to that in a future report. For now, we need to cover how to tell real science from the junk science being pumped out by the Gates Foundation. Because to my shock and amazement, there have recently been at least a dozen reports published claiming that SBAC is reliable and valid! Of course, all of these fake reports were paid for either directly or indirectly with more than $105 million in grants from the Gates Foundation.


Now, I could have called this article "Follow the Money." But I have already used that title on many other past reports about Common Core and the SBAC test - so I am using a different title this time to change things up a bit. . But this report is about learning how to follow the money.

So let's get right to it. With real scientific educational research, a group of independent researchers, not bought off by any billionaire, would select a large group of representative students, such one thousand 8th graders randomly chosen from an urban school district. These students would be randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group. A survey would be given to each group to make sure that the groups were matched on important characteristics such as free and reduced lunch status and ELL status. Each group would be given a series of tasks such as completing the 8th grade NAEP Math test, the 8th grade SBAC Math test, the 8th Grade MAP test, the 8th Grade MSP test and/or the 8th Grade Iowa Test of Basic Skills. These would then be compared against comparison measures such as teacher grades in their previous and current year math courses. The actual test questions of every test would be published along with student scores for each test question on each test. Objective analysis and conclusions could then be made about the reliability and validity of various measures using these carefully constructed norming studies. This results and conclusions would be peer reviewed and quite often the entire study could and would be replicated by other independent researchers at other major Universities.

By sharp contrast, fake Common Core reports are conducted by a private for profit consulting firm that receives funding either directly or indirectly from the Gates Foundation, the originator and promoter of Common Core and Common Core tests.

A typical example of a fake research group is HumRRO which recently produced a report supposedly confirming the reliability and validity of the SBAC test. Here is a link to their report. https://www.humrro.org/corpsite/sites/default/files/HQAP_HumRRO_High_School_Study_Final%20Report.pdf

Here is the first page of the report in which they let the reader know that the report was paid for by the Gates Foundation.


Sadly, if you go to the Gates Foundation website and enter the term High Quality Assessment Project, the database does not indicate a single grant.


This is not surprising since the Gates Foundation has at least 100 fake research groups and it often launders money through several groups to hide its influence. It basically pays one foundation which pays a consulting firm which pays another consulting firm to do the actual work - which nearly always concludes that the Gates Foundation project being studied is doing a wonderful job.

In this case, the money was laundered through a group called the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Gates gave them 12 grants totaling over $30 million to produce this report. Here are just a few of the grants:


House Bill 2214 would replace our current fair End of Course exams with the unfair High Failure Rate SBAC exams.


House Bill 2214 is important because it will likely be presented for a vote in the House and Senate during the final days of the 2015 special session. House Bill 2214 would raise the graduation requirements in Washington state to the highest in the nation – greatly increasing the drop out rate and destroying the lives of thousands of low income young adults each year - and increasing our prison population – costing tax payers $100 million per year in added prison costs. In this report, we will explain why legislators and all concerned citizens in Washington state should oppose House Bill 2214.

As May is the Official High Stakes Test Til You Drop Month here in Washington state, I though you might be interested in reading a personal story about the very first high stakes test ever administered in the United States. The date was September 1917 – about 98 years ago. A few months earlier, on April 6, 1917, the US Congress voted to declare war against Germany. The real reason of this war was to protect large loans made by G.P. Morgan to British Banks. But that purpose was not known until much later. About 2 million American young men were encouraged to enlist. This included about 100,000 African Americans and a very large number of Norwegian Americans. Here is an African American World War One recruitment poster:


Nearly all of these two million young American men were given a high stakes test called the Army Alpha Beta Test.According to the US Army, the Alpha Beta test measured "verbal ability, numerical ability, ability to follow directions and knowledge of information". Scores on the Army Alpha Beta testwere used to determine “a soldier's capability of serving, his job classification, and his potential for a leadership position.” The reason it was high stakes was that if you failed the test, you would be a foot soldier, also known as cannon fodder, which would greatly increase your chances of dying in the war. If you passed the test, your odds of living were much higher. We will get back to this test in a minute.

 “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

There is a war going on against our kids and our public schools. A big part of that war is high stakes testing with tests so horrible that the majority of students who take the test will fail the test – even if the students are well above grade level! The most horrible of these abusive and demeaning high stakes tests is called the Common Core SBAC test. Teachers and parents are not even allowed to see the test questions.

But it would not matter if parents or teachers did accidentally see the test questions because every child is given a different test with different questions based on their answers to previous questions and no one has any idea which students will be given which questions. The SBAC test is not reliable. It is not valid. It is not even remotely predictive of “college and career readiness.” But it makes millions of dollars in profit for Wall Street consultants. So all of our children in Washington state are currently forced to take this test – unless their parents sign a form opting them out of the SBAC test.

In this article, we will review the meaning of four important scientific terms and explain why understanding these terms is essential to understanding why the SBAC math test fails 67% of all students who take this test. The four terms we will look at are Reliability, Validity, NAEP Basic and NAEP Proficient.


The SBAC math test is one of two tests developed to align with the Common Core national math standards. The other Common Core test is called PARCC.

In September 2014, the group that developed the SBAC test announced for the first time that the SBAC test would fail 67% of the students who took the test. Here is a quote from their press release: “Smarter Balanced estimates that the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” in math ranged from 32 percent in Grade 8 to 39 percent in Grade 3. See the chart below for further details.”

Here is the chart that came with this press release:


Look at blue and green areas of the far right column and you will see that only 33% of all 11th grade students will score a Level 3 or 4 on the SBAC Math test. This means that 67% of all 11th Graders will be labeled as failures by the SBAC math test.

Legislators and the public have repeatedly asked why the SBAC test was designed to fail 67% of all students. In a moment we will provide the official reason and then explain the real reason. But first, we will describe some of the many extremely unusual characteristics of the SBAC math test.

In this article, we will explain why more than 10,000 students will be denied a diploma due to failure to pass a high stakes test in Washington State this year. As we pointed out in our last article, all high stakes tests are unreliable, invalid and unfair to low income and minority groups. https://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/the-real-reason-the-sbac-math-test-fails-67-percent-of-all-students

These low income students not only failed the high stakes tests but they also failed a deeply flawed alternative assessment process called a “Collection of Evidence.” So we will also explain why the Collection of Evidence (COE) Process fails more than nine out of ten students caught in the COE trap – even though those students often work for a full year under the direction of a certified teacher trying to make their way through all of the land mines in the Collection of Evidence obstacle course. The reason this is important is because members of the state legislature and media reporters have repeatedly claimed that “about 2,000 students in Washington state will not get their high school diploma this year due to the fact that they were not able to complete the Collection of Evidence process.” These 2,000 students have completed all of their other 12 years of required course work – including all of their high school course credits and even pass their Biology and Math courses and even completed a full year makeup “Collection of Evidence” course including jumping through all of the hoops to submit a Collection of Evidence packet. They simply were not good at taking a high stakes test which dumped them into a complex Collection of Evidence process where their Collection of Evidence packet was unfairly rejected by OSPI. This article will show that the COE process actually fails 11,000 students per year. We describe the convoluted nature of this Collection of Evidence process and why it was and is unfair to students who have been caught in this trap. Below is an image posted on the Collection of Evidence website at OSPI which shows some of the information needed to pass the Math Collection of Evidence process. https://www.coe.k12.wa.us/domain/31


History of the Collection of Evidence Process
The Collection of Evidence process, or COE, was intended to be an alternate pathway to graduation for students who failed one of the State End of Course high stakes tests – also known as EOC. Currently, there are three high stakes End of Course exams administered in Washington state. These are for English, Math and Biology. These End of Course exams are a new and experimental process. The Math EOC was first given in spring 2011 and the Math EOC or Math COE was first required for graduation for the Class of 2013. The Biology End of Course Exam was first administered in Spring 2012, and the Biology EOC/COE was first required for graduation with the the Class of 2015 (this year's class is the first class required to jump over this bar).

Today, July 2 2015, Washington State OSPI released the preliminary results of the SBAC tests. With over 90% of the student scores reported, the results are truly shocking. Only 29 percent of Washington High School students passed the SBAC math test. Put another way, more than 50,000 Juniors failed to pass this unreliable and unfair SBAC test. This is important because if House Bill 2214 were to pass the Senate in the coming days, passing this SBAC math test would be required for graduation and over 50,000 students would be at risk of not graduating in June 2016 just due to failure to pass this extremely difficult math test – a test so difficult that almost no one in the State legislature could pass this math test! Here is the graph released by OSPI today.


Here is the link to the article on the OSPI website:

On July 9 2015 Washington State released the total for the number of students who opted out of the unfair SBAC test this spring. The number is shocking. 62,898 students opted out of the SBAC test here in Washington State! In the 11th Grade, more than half of the students refused to take the SBAC test. Of nearly 80,000 11th Graders, only 37,482 or 47% took the test. 53% joined the SBAC Opt Out Protest movement.

Here is the table released by Washington State OSPI.

opt out table

OSPI would like to pretend that only the "confirmed refusals" opted out. But the reality is that many parents refused by keeping their kids home on the days of the test. The real total is the enrollment minus those who took the test. 
opt out total

In the past year, both the Washington State Democratic Party and Washington State Republican Party have passed resolutions by overwhelming margins opposing Common Core and the SBAC test. Tens of thousands of teachers have staged walkouts in more than 60 school districts across Washington state. Now 60,000 parents and their children have opted out of the SBAC test. This is by far the largest testing protest ever in the State of Washington. The parents and students of Washington state have sent a clear message to legislators in Olympia: It is time to end the unfair, invalid and unreliable SBAC test!  
Among the many marketing slogans of Common Core and SBAC test advocates is the claim that Common Core and SBAC will get all students “career and college ready.” Sadly, no test and no set of standards has ever shown any significant relationship to college readiness. So this claim of a miracle cure for our kids is no more possible than the claim made by No Child Left Behind advocates back in 2001 that NCLB would make all children “proficient” by the year 2014. We are now well past 2014 and it turns out that NCLB did not make any children more proficient. All this “drill, kill, test and privatize” approach to education really did was rob the tax payers and students of billions of dollars. What is lacking is serious critical thinking when it comes to the unsupported and in many cases provably false claims of Common Core and SBAC test advocates.

Ironically, an additional marketing slogan used by Common Core and SBAC test advocates is that Common Core and SBAC will foster and test for “critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills.” In this article, we will provide examples of what Common Core and SBAC really do with the hope that more people will be able to understand that the reality of Common Core and SBAC is the exact opposite of the claims and marketing slogans. What Common Core and SBAC really promote is rigid, inflexible, convergent robotic repetition of false slogans that are really nothing more than corporate propaganda designed to manipulate students and make it easier for corporations to increase their profits.

Here is an image of how Common Core and SBAC has been sold to the public:

critical thinking

In theory, it all looks so wonderful. But there is an old saying about theory and reality, “In theory, theory and reality should be the same. But in reality, theory and reality are often completely different.”

Here is the reality of Common Core and SBAC. The SBAC math test is filled with abstract and pointlessly complex questions that have no relationship to reality. It is no wonder that over 70% of high school juniors failed this test in Washington state in the spring of 2015. Should House Bill 2214 pass, accelerating the transition to the SBAC test as a graduation requirement from 2019 to 2016, the unfair SBAC math test will place the graduation of more than 50,000 students at risk.

But the SBAC ELA test is in many ways much worse. Only 40% of high school students failed the SBAC English course compared to the 70% who failed the SBAC math test. This only puts the future of 30,000 students at risk instead of 50,000 students. But the harm with the SBAC English test is not merely in the number of students who do or do not pass this test. To take the practice ELA test, go to the following link

What you will see when you take the 11th grade practice test is a series of narrow-minded black and white, yes or no questions on some very low quality and often meaningless writings. Considering the fact that the SBAC test is one of the most expensive tests ever produced, costing tax payers more than $100 million dollars not including the billions of dollars spent on administering the test, one would have expected a test that asked questions about some of the great works in American literature such as the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address.

How Common Core and SBAC ignore Ethical and Moral Issues
Instead of classic works of English literature, the SBAC test uses writings that are little more than corporate propaganda. As an example, let's take a look at one of the three “sources” used for the SBAC ELA “performance” task. It is a New York Times April 9 2010 article by Tara Bernard. This article which could not even be called “news” advocates that states add a financial literacy course as a requirement to for students to graduate from high school. This would be in addition to all of the other courses required to graduate.

Before we get into the problems with this article, it is pretty disturbing that anything from the New York Times would ever be required reading for high school students. The New York Times is not much better than the National Enquirer. On July 5, 2015, the New York Times had the audacity to publish an article called “Now Europe Must Decide Whether to Make an Example of Greece” as if the people of Greece were small children who needed to be taken to the wood shed for failing to do their homework. The people of Greece were robbed of billions of dollars by wealthy banks and now face financial ruin at the hands of these same banks. But the author of the article not only failed to engage in critical thinking – he did no research at all. He merely repeated the corporate talking point. Of course, this is exactly what Common Core and SBAC want all of us to do. Stop thinking. Simply repeat corporate propaganda.

Here is what economist William Black had to say about the New York Times article:
“It is often the moral and economic blindness of New York Times articles about the EU crisis that is most striking... The missing aspect characteristic of the NYT’s coverage is ethics and humanity. To pick a mob “hit man” theme (“make an example of Greece) should have immediately alerted the author to the central moral issue. How did an organization such as the EU supposedly devoted to “ever closer union” get perverted into a device of extortion that according to the author is likely to destroy not only Greece’s economy but also its democracy? Note that the suffering of the Greek people is simply ignored in the article.” https://neweconomicperspectives.org/2015/07/the-new-york-times-urges-the-troika-to-make-an-example-of-greece.html#more-9567

Sadly, the 2010 New York Times article chosen by SBAC for their ELA test was not much better than the revolting example of New York Times yellow journalism described above. The 2010 New York Times article, speaks in glowing terms about the failed Ed Reform scams of Presidents Bush and Obama as if they were a rousing success. There is even a quote from one of Arne Duncan's assistants. The article assumes that taking on thousands of dollars of student debt is “normal” and that average Americans rather than corrupt bankers were responsible for the housing bubble and associated economic collapse. There is also a paragraph normalizing how to plan to live on a family income of only $21,000 per year – just above the poverty level. This is followed by a section normalizing federal intervention into the curriculum of state schools (something that is actually illegal under ESEA). Naturally, the recommended solution is to work with private corporations. I won't make you read the entire article. But below are a few paragraphs to give you a general idea of how SBAC ELA test corporate brainwashing works. Here is a link to the entire article in case you want to read the whole thing.

Working Financial Literacy in with the Three Rs
Most Americans aren’t fluent in the language of money. Yet we’re expected to make big financial decisions as early as our teens — Should I take on thousands of dollars of student debt? Should I buy a car? While no course in personal finance could have prevented many Americans from getting caught up in the housing bubble, it’s clear that most of us need some help, preferably starting when we’re still in school. And I’m not just talking about learning to balance your checkbook. It’s understanding concepts like the time value of money, risk and reward, and, yes, the importance of savings. All of this raises the question: What’s happening inside our classrooms?... The 11th grader, who simulated life with a wife and two children on $21,000 a year, told of balancing needs versus wants, trying to find an apartment in a safe neighborhood that fit the family budget and the effect of an unexpected rent increase on their savings.

It’s hard because there is no silver bullet to get this into every school,” said Matthew Yale, deputy chief of staff to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘We’re going to institute this in the 100,000 public schools in America.’ But our plan for reauthorization does make room for financial literacy in schools, which is a really big, big deal.” Mr. Yale was referring to the Obama administration’s plan to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind. He said the Department of Education’s next step is to work with districts and help them find the money they need, whether it’s through the many literacy-minded nonprofits or the private sector.

Mr. Yale also said that department officials were working on competitive grant programs, which would allow schools to compete for money to pay for the financial literacy programs. President Bush created the first Advisory Council on Financial Literacy in 2008, and President Obama plans to assemble his own team. In its annual report, the first council recommended that Congress or state legislatures mandate financial education in all schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.”

Now in case you may not know, education is generally accepted to be a “States” right. Neither the President or Congress have any business telling states how to run their public schools. As for financial literacy, balancing a check book may be an important skill. But learning how to recognize and ignore corporate propaganda is an equally important skill.

The author of this article would like us to believe that the economic collapse of 2008 could not have been avoided and was the result of a housing bubble. In fact, it was really the result of repealing the Glass Steagall Banking Regulation Act in 1999 which led to the massive corruption that collapsed the economy 9 years later.

But the real questions I hope you will consider are these:
Why was this extremely biased article even in the SBAC 11th Grade ELA test to begin with?
Who chose this passage and others like it?
Why is Common Core Standards and the SBAC test copyrighted by private trade groups funded by billionaires when they were both paid for with public tax payer dollars?
Why does the SBAC ELA test force students to write answers in a certain way (called a rubric)?
Doesn't lack of freedom in writing lead inevitably to a lack of freedom in thinking?
Doesn't “close reading” - which forces students to mindlessly search and quote only from prechosen text no matter how bad the text may be - lead to a lack of critical thinking?
Shouldn't we respect appreciate and promote divergent creative thinking as much as we promote tunnel vision convergent thinking?
Isn't the underlying principle of communication to respect all points of view and promote freedom of thought and expression?
Hasn't freedom of thought been the key to American innovation and economic growth during the past 200 years?

Common Core and SBAC are a one size fits all, all kids in the same box approach to learning. But the reality is that one size does not fit all and many kids do not fit well in the SBAC box. This is the reason that we should get rid of the SBAC test and stop labeling children as failures simply because they do not think in the SBAC way. Only when we honor all students as individuals and help all children achieve their unique potential will we truly begin to foster “critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills.” 

David Spring M. Ed.
Coalition to Protect our Public Schools

In this article, we explain why unfair high stakes tests – which are now required in order to get a high school diploma here in Washington state – will severely harm more than 180,000 students during the next four years. Currently more than 10,000 students per year are denied a diploma due to failure to pass a high stakes test. However, unless state law is revised, by the class of 2019, the number of students denied a diploma due to failure to pass a high stakes test will explode to more than 40,000 students per year! Our hope is that after reading this article, you will work to help us pass Senate Bill 6122, sponsored by Senators McAuliffe, Chase and 9 other Senators which would eliminate high stakes testing as a graduation requirement here in Washington state.

In the past year, both the Washington State Democratic Party and Washington State Republican Party have passed resolutions by overwhelming majorities opposing Common Core and its associatedhigh stakes high failure rate SBAC test. Tens of thousands of teachers have staged walkouts in more than 60 school districts across Washington state to protest these unfair tests. In addition, more than 60,000 parents and their children opted out of the SBAC tests in 2015including about 40,000 of our state's 80,000 11th grade students - by far the largest high stakes testing protest ever in the State of Washington. The teachers, parents and students of Washington state have sent a clear message to legislators in Olympia: It is time to end the unfair, invalid and unreliable SBAC test!

Why Are So Many Parents Teachers and Students Opposed to the SBAC Test?
It is important to understand that the entire concept of high stakes testing is based on a very big lie. The very big lie - promoted by corporations that make billions of dollars dumping these tests on our schools - is that the results of a test can predict “career and college readiness.”


Yet studies done in several states have confirmed that there is no relationship between the scores on high school tests (such as the SAT or any other high stakes test) and college completion. For example, a 2007 study of more than 81,000 high school students in California found no relationship between their scores on the SAT test and completion of college four years later. Many students who did poorly on the high stakes test completed college while many students who did well on the SAT test did not complete college.

Imagine you are a high school Junior who struggles with math. But you still hope to get a high school diploma. You have worked hard for 11 long years and have already passed 3 years of high school math courses required for graduation in Washington state - including Algebra One, Geometry and Algebra 2. You have often stayed up until midnight to get all of your math homework done. It hasn't been easy because neither of your parents understand Algebra 2. But despite having passed 3 years of high school math courses, you now also have to pass the SBAC 11th Grade Math test – a test that you know only 30% of your classmates and prior students have been able to pass. if you fail to pass this test, your punishment is that you will be required to take and pass a 4th year of an advanced math course called Precalculus during your Senior Year or you will not graduate.

There are 29 questions on this SBAC 11th Grade Practice math test (there are many more on the real SBAC math test). Ten of the 29 questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 12, 17, 18 and 23 are relatively easy. We will assume you can get them right. Because our purpose is to show you how difficult the most difficult questions are, we have selected 19 questions for you to review. To pass the test, with a score of 3 or 4, you need to get 80% of the 29 questions right. This is 23 questions. We have already given you credit for 10 of the questions. This means you have to answer 13 out of the following 19 questions correctly – or your high school graduation will be placed at risk. You have one hour to complete these 19 questions (about 3 minutes per question). But don't be nervous. It is not like the entire rest of your life depends on passing this test. Well, actually it does. But try not to be too nervous as fear and anxiety will cause you to blank out and forget everything.