Re: What is the big deal w/ testing???
Testing is part of the training. The closest you can get to a "real live" attack is from Ran Dori and testing. How will you know how well you can do under pressure?
It is also a time to focus on a few techniques and hone them. Rather than coming in for class and getting this and that, here and there.
Testing shows the school how they have been as training partners. It also highlights, for all to see, how Sensei is doing. Is everyone doing a certain technique that way, or just you? Is it the way Sensei wants it done, or the way the senior students are pushing it?
Why not take the test? What is it that bothers you about it? Being in front of everyone and making a "mistake"? Don't you know that you will never find a more supportive group of people to get in front of and work on your "stage fright"? (if that is what it is).
Are you just a casual Aikidoist that wants to pick and choose what they learn? Or do you want the whole enchilada?
There are more reasons I am sure I am not listing, these just pop into my mind right now.
Maybe you are one of the few that does not need to test for any of these reasons. Let your Sensei decide, after all, your Sensei has seen a lot of Aikidoists and will be able to ascertain what you need better than someone that has only been praciticing a few months...
Good luck in you decision and training.