Re: To Test, or not to Test
I have heard of situations like yours, but never in a dojo that belongs to a major organization (USAF, Birankai, etc.) where there exists a clearly-defined set of requirements for ascending the ladder of rank.
I dont want to go down the path of whether or not testing and rank are indicative of ability, etc. Aikido is a martial art governed by the Confucian traditions of Japanese education, and those traditions demand that one ascends the ladder of rank as one progresses so that one is in conformity with one's proper "position."
You need to train in a dojo that has well-defined standards and practices. Birankai and the Canadian Aikido Federation have dojos in your area, and I am sure that other reputable organizations do so as well. Talk to the senseis in a few and see what they say.