Ever heard of John Dewey, the father of modern education? Well, he's dead, and he's turning over in his grave.
Has your teacher ever said, "You better pay attention because you will need this on the test," or "you will need this in college" or "this is preparing you for the next step." My go-to line was "The real world isn't going to stand for this!" As if the real world only starts after your walk across the stage. This message comes from your teachers, your parents, your counselors, your principal, your coaches, your supervisors, your siblings, your aunts and uncles, even your president. The recent obsession with "college and career readiness" has become so prevalent that it's now trite. Your life, as a high school student (or college for that matter) is all about getting ready for something else.
The thing is, these people aren't lying to you. They're actually trying to help you, and to an extent, what we're saying is true. But treating learning as a means to an end rather than an end in itself will not sustain you in high school, in college, or after. As Dewey taught us, "Education is not the preparation for life. Education is life."
So a question like "will this be on the test?" is an indication that your approach to learning is more transactional than transformational. Everything you learn, I don't care if it's the quadratic formula or the meaning of the word "synecdoche," is, in itself, helping to expand your mind and improve you as a person right now, in this world, which is actually real.
You've probably heard the saying, "Boring people get bored." Here's how to not be boring : embrace new concepts and new skills not as some sort of currency that you can cash in later in life, rather as an automatic payment to your brain, right now.
Ever notice when you go to the gym, that all of the unfit people look completely miserable? They're watching the clock on the treadmill, hoping for a circuit to break, trying to distract themselves with TMZ or Judge Judy. They see working out the same way too many kids view learning--as a means to an end. Notice that the people who are in shape seem to be purposeful, intense, almost serene.
Approach learning the same way and you will find that high school, college, and work will be so much easier, so much more gratifying, and so much more fun.
Now get back to your homework!