x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

A careers test can help decide your future

A careers test at school makes one seriously consider options even when the future seems frightening.

We've been thinking for a while now about what we should do after school, as sixth form looms closer and closer, but the future seems terribly frightening. It's hard to imagine anyone we know could actually obtain a real job. Thinking about entrusting the health industry, for example, to any of my frankly violent, ninja-obsessed classmates, makes me tremble, so I refuse to think about it. I am positive that if any of them, armed with a degree in surgery, were presented with a sick person to operate on, they would most likely carve them open and poke the innards, squealing "Ooh, squishy!" as they did so. Or maybe that would just be me, I don't know.

We've now started to get from the school some help with making decisions about our futures - career interviews are just round the corner. We also just had Morrisby tests, a sort of in-depth assessment that evaluates what your strengths and weaknesses are, and gives you the results in a 20-page booklet with advice on which career you should choose. They give you a list of about 10 jobs that their computers think will suit you, further befuddling those among us who change their minds about what they want to be every other week. When we were first told about the test, as would be expected from a bunch of mature 15-year-olds, everyone immediately began predicting what the Morrisby test would tell their friends.

If I were to follow my friends' honest counsel, I would either grow up to be a chimney sweep or the record holder for the female with the most out-of-tune singing voice. Lucky I had the Morrisby test then, which was slightly kinder and told me that I would be ill-suited to helping people cope with their problems and like to think independently rather than follow instructions. Which was pretty much a euphemism for: "You will blow up anyone you try to help and you cannot do what you have been told to do."

The actual test was quite interesting, although it took a while to get used to the style of questioning. We started off with a few hundred problems on "finding the next bead in the chain". You know, blue bead, red bead, green bead, blue, red, green, blue. Which bead comes next? Blue, red, yellow or purple? That sort of thing. The patterns got harder as you went along, though, and by the end of this non-verbal reasoning test I never wanted to have anything to do with big, orange-coloured, triangle-shaped beads again. Even looking at a bracelet I was wearing made my brain hurt.

I found the next couple of sections - numerical ability and verbal ability - easy enough, though they felt too much like maths and English tests for comfort. I don't mind sums, but they're not something I would have paid extra to do. The following part made up for that; we had to convert a series of lines and squiggles into meaningful pictures. I spent a pleasant few minutes drawing caricatures of the people around me and meticulously embellishing them with beards and moustaches.

It was finally time for the timed tests. The first question was: "Write down as many things as you can that are round and made of metal" in 30 seconds. I used my half minute up trying to put a name to a picture in my head, and finally came up with 'Van der Graaf generator' in the last two seconds. The person next to me had a 20-word-strong list, but oh well. I'm not sure how writing as many letter Ss as you can in 15 seconds helps determine whether you should be a marine biologist or an auctioneer, but there's probably some twisted - extremely twisted - logic to it.

The results were unexpected, to say the least. Disappointingly, nobody I know is inclined towards becoming a member of the mafia. One of us was recommended a vocation as a social worker or a paediatrician. This is a person who goes about jumping canteen queues and subjects cowering Year 7s to a furious telling-off if they try to push forward because "they're just little kids and don't have the same rights as us."

I was hoping the test would tell me I had the potential to be something like "Nobel-prize winner" or "the next Jimi Hendrix", but it seems I'm destined to work my socks off to unleash the "medical physicist" or "microbiologist" in me. And those are some of the suggestions I actually know the meaning of. According to Morrisby, my talents lie in fields I am unable to pronounce, but hopefully none of them should be the politically correct term for "chimney sweep".

The writer is a 15-year-old student in Dubai