At a party this week-end, I ran into a woman I've known for many, many years. It turns out she reads Scattershot and could really relate to my blogs on testing. "I am a terrible test taker," she said. "I second guess everything."
I was surprised. She is a very bright business woman. But then she told me one of her worst test-taking experiences. She was about to be named manager of a large franchise, but there was one more detail to work out. The Colorado representative she had been working with assured her it was just a formality, but she had to take a test designed to measure her trustworthiness. He was very casual about it, low-key, inviting her over to his house to take the test. She took it at his kitchen table while he did other things, and they sent it off.
She failed. The whole deal was off, and she was a mess. Now I have to tell you that this is a person whose "trustworthiness" should never be in question. If she were working for me, I'd let her have access to intimate company financial matters in a heartbeat.
It turns out she over-analyzed everything. If the test asked if she had ever taken a paper clip off someone's desk, and she actually had not, she would think, "I'll bet they ask this to see if you'll say 'no' because everyone has taken a paper clip off someone's desk. So I probably should say 'yes'...or maybe not." She struggled with each question and applied her own logic. Apparently her own logic was not to be trusted.
To her credit, she finally came up with a proposal. She asked to sit down with a company representatives and tell them why she had answered each question as she had. Someone had the sense to agree, and her answers satisfied them. She got the job.
Wouldn't it be nice if kids got to explain some of their wrong answers?