This week, Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham published a great summary of this "test-hacking" problem and what it means for startup founders raised in an education system that encourages learning to take tests rather than actually
working hard or absorbing information
"Wasting your time is not the worst thing the educational system does to you. The worst thing it does is to train you that the way to win is by hacking bad tests. This is a much subtler problem that I didn't recognize until I saw
it happening to other people."
I'm one of those people who can figure out creative ways to "hack" tests, so I always did well in school while learning and studying relatively little. I always felt this was
an injustice to my friends who struggled so hard and still barely passed their classes, but didn't think much of it until I began working in startups.
I remember the feeling as I started my first company when I realized
that no one knows the right answer
. There's no test to "hack," there's just a "successful" or "failing" business. Even these two words have different definitions depending on the company's goals.
founder, you have to "unlearn" what traditional academics teaches you. Life in a startup won't be a series of "hackable" tests.