Published May 4, 2005

Coming out of our Globl Strategy final on Monday, and then our Management of Organizations final today, my poor classmates were cradling their wrists and complaining of all of the pages and pages of answers they had to write out. But not me. No, I trained long and hard for tests just like this through two solid years of High School AP History.

Brooks Lakin’s AP History was the hardest class in the school. Mr. Lakin regularly assigned 50-100 pages of reading a night, and, worse, he expected you to be able to discuss the contents of that reading and comment on them in a useful manner. And he would cold call. His classes were small, but intense (and not just because of those shirts that Rebecca would wear).

But what really stood out about AP History were the tests. The magic words to get any test in any other class to be rescheduled were “I have a Lakin test that day.” Often, “I have a Lakin test the next day” worked too, so feared were the tests even by other teachers. And for good reason. In two and a half hours, Mr. Lakin fully expected you to show that you had read and:

  • Apply multiple readings to different issues
  • Tie readings together in ways that hadn’t been discussed in class
  • Remember important facts, details, and names
  • Develop and support original opinions
  • Spell correctly, use proper grammar, and express yourself clearly

These tests were hard in their very structure. But the questions were even worse. They were interesting, incisive, difficult. Lakin tests opened with short answers and concluded with a couple of essays; the short answers could have been completed with an essay and the essays with a chapter in a book. And some people wrote chapters! Jess, one of my best friends, regularly filled more than 25 single-spaced handwritten pages with his clear, looping script; I think his record was about 35 pages. David, class president, co-Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper (with me!), basketball star, soccer star, and future Harvard MD, would fill ten pages — squeezing two almost-illegible lines into every college-ruled line of the page. I regularly wrote from 16-24 pages.

So, when it comes to filling six or eight pages in a two-hour test in business school, that’s not scary to me. Carl Voigt’s no Brooks Lakin.