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TinotopiaLog → The World’s Worst Test (13 Feb 2003)
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Thursday 13 February 2003

The World’s Worst Test

Since you’re reading Tinotopia, it’s safe to assume that you’re an intelligent, well-educated person. Our research shows that 47.8% of you have graduate degrees, and that only 2.4% of those are in physical education.

This means that you’ve likely taken a number of standardized, fill-in-the-bubble tests in your life. If you’re intelligent — as we’ve already established you are — you’ve noticed that some of the questions on those tests just don’t make sense. I’m not talking about questions that are beyond your ability — though of course there would be few of those — I’m talking about questions where you know that you understand all the concepts and information involved, but where none of the possible answers make any sense. A good many of these tests, I am convinced, make the most of the fact that the people taking them are presumed to be inexperienced and unconfident, and likely to accept the authority of the test company.

That conculsion tends to be reinforced by this, where an experienced professional standardized-test tutor locks horns with the SSAT. This is a long one, so go get a cup of coffee before you plunge in. Just as a teaser, though, here’s one of the analogy questions from the test, the ‘correct’ answer, and the commentary:

51. Purebred is to hybrid as

(A) thoroughbred is to horse

(B) donkey is to mule

(C) royalty is to nobility

(D) pedigree is to mongrel

(E) registered is to lineage

My answer here was (B), for the obvious reason that a donkey is a well-defined species, whereas a mule is a cross-breeding of a donkey and a horse. Their answer is (D), despite the fact that ‘pedigree’ is the list of ancestors, not the animal itself. It still demonstrates Student Ability, though, at least as is defined as how often you attend dog shows.

Posted by tino at 12:54 13.02.03
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Actually the only “analogy” I can find in that question would involve two of the answers. (That would be D and E)

Go figure.

Posted by: Amanda Wilson at February 17, 2003 05:37 PM

Allow me to cut-and-paste my disclaimer from the beginning of the page here:

“Please note that, in the case of all comments, when I talk about “my answer”, this is simply the least worst answer I could find, and thus they should all be read with the sort of rising inflection used when you’re about to be smacked upside the head.”

And note that, by this point, I was pretty much ready to put my head through the table I was taking the test on. So my logic at this point, as you probably saw, might have gotten a little punchy.

Anyway, thanks for the link, Tino!

Posted by: Jesse Fuchs at February 19, 2003 01:05 AM