With a job or career path hanging in the balance, taking a professional examination can be intimidating. A low score can threaten a future in that line of work. A high score can open doors.
I've taken those types of tests more than once and felt the pressure that comes with them. Once while I was teaching secondary school, the state established a new set of exams. I had to pass them in order to continue working in my specialty. Although I took the background classes required, they didn't help much with the examination that loomed ahead. Few test preparation materials were available, and none with practice questions. I felt there was only one thing to do: pray.
The first step for me was to remember that I could retain my focus and stay calm. A psalm says, "In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion" (71:1). God had given me this opportunity to demonstrate that I was competent and qualified to continue work in my field.
All good ideas originate in the divine Mind, God. Since God is ever-present, I would know everything I needed to know. This took away the fear. I always had access to every bit of information that I needed.
Two of the three testing areas involved multiple-choice questions. The answers were so long and complicated that often it was easy to forget what the question was before I'd even finished reading the first choice of answers.
But this test, like any professional examination, wasn't just about getting the answers correct. It was about individual development and progress. God alone determines those. We live completely encircled by God's love, and there is nothing outside it, not even a difficult test. Clearly, it was right for me to successfully complete this challenge and to prove that I reflected the one source of intelligence, God.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Growth is governed by intelligence; by the active, all-wise, law-creating, law-disciplining, law-abiding Principle, God" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 206).
Testing day came. I sat in the classroom and recalled the comforting truths that I had already prayed with, and I listened for divine direction. In addition to praying for myself, I also knew that God was there for the others, too.
In both of the multiple-choice sections of the exam, I was the last to finish. As I prayed, I realized that a false sense of pride couldn't interfere. I was expressing patience and determination, and using the resources available. In this situation, a certain amount of time was a resource, not a limit.
Next we went on to the essay section of the exam. I prayed for guidance about an incisive and unique response. Usually those who score best on this section don't write in the predictable style. Yet their answers shouldn't sacrifice intellectual integrity. I asked God for help. Immediately I was given the right approach.
During the weeks of waiting for the results, I felt confident that God was taking care of all my needs, including the professional ones. I understood that nothing I ever did at home or at work was beyond God's control. Whatever happened, only God could determine the path my life would take.
Finally the results arrived. I had done well on both multiple-choice sections and passed the essay section with the highest possible score. Not only that, but I had learned that when we turn to God for help, even difficult professional challenges can be met.
Fear thou not;
for I am with thee:
be not dismayed;
for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee;
yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee
with the right hand
of my righteousness.