Calling tests ‘easy’ only hurts others

November 27, 2018 — by Christine Zhang

“Oh my gosh, that test was so easy. I finished 20 minutes before the bell even after checking my work twice.”

Comments such as these often follow tests or quizzes. Some students even make similar remarks about classwork or math homework problems, telling their classmates how quickly they finished a problem set or got through a reading.

But no matter how innocuous or harmless they may seem, these types of comments are often hurtful. It does not matter how easy anyone might have found a test; no one should ever say that an exam was “easy.”

Not only do these remarks heavily discourage others who might have found the test more challenging, but calling a test or homework assignment easy does absolutely nothing but inflate the egos of those who say them to unhealthy levels.

If a student who struggled on a test hears a classmate say that the assessment was easy, they will likely feel as though they are incompetent at the subject and may lose motivation. Feelings of hopelessness often ensue, especially when the student genuinely cares about the subject, and lowered self-esteem levels become inevitable.

As many counselors and therapists would say, what might have been considered an innocent comment made by one student can quickly become a hurtful one that can damage the self-esteem of their peers. The last thing a struggling student needs is the belittlement of their supposedly smarter classmates.

The student might feel pressured to work harder to match their peers in the class, but this desire should stem from their own determination and interest in the subject rather than the burning sting of a classmate’s insensitive comment.

Due to the competitive nature of Saratoga High, many students feel the need to be a step ahead of their peers, even if it means bragging and showing off to assert that they are more advanced in a particular field. Worse yet, the competitive drive that is bred by boastful comments only exacerbates the existing culture of competition on campus, creating a trapping, never-ending cycle that only incentivizes the behavior of those who can call tests or assignments easy.

Students might also make these comments about a test to increase their own self-confidence and assure themselves that they did well, but they should keep these thoughts to themselves. Although it can be frustrating to not speak out loud, several others might be spared from feelings of worthlessness or incompetence.

This problem with calling schoolwork easy also pertains to homework in STEM classes such as math, chemistry and physics. Especially if a homework problem requires the application of a tough concept, students who were not able to completely follow the lesson may need help solving homework problems, which is no reason for them to feel like they are failing the subject. There should be no shame in asking for help, and remarking that the problem is easy only humiliates students who are slower in understanding the material.

It’s understandable that students want to feel more confident in their own academic abilities, but they do not have to additionally undermine the hard work of their peers in the process of doing so. Scoring well on a test or quickly finishing a problem set should be a silent victory, not one that has to be shared with the entire classroom or rubbed in others’ faces.