It’s been a while since I was in school, but like many professionals, I am required to take tests and/or quizzes from time to time, typically for safety or professional development purposes. And at the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses, sometimes I struggle with these things, and almost without exception, I feel like it’s not that I wasn’t paying attention, but that the questions are confusing, often because of double negatives, superfluous wording, or more than one answer that could be correct (which sends my mind in a tailspin of anxiety)!
To be clear, I’m OK with failing a test because I don’t know the material. But when questions are “less than clear,” it gets a little disheartening.
Here’s a (completely fabricated to protect the offenders) example of the type of thing I’m talking about:
Read the following story and then answer the questions that follow.
“Jimmy has a red ball. The ball rolled down the hill. Jimmy could not find the ball. Don’t be sad Jimmy, we’ll get you a new ball!”
1) Which of the following does or does not describe the state of whether or not Jimmy could or could not locate his ball?
a) He could
b) He could not
c) He couldn’t not
d) He doesn’t not
2) Did Jimmy’s ball roll down or not roll down something that was not a flat surface?
c) Not enough information to tell
d) None of the above
3) Could Jimmy’s mood upon losing and/or finding his ball be described as loquacious?
b) Not likely
c) Flat surface
If there’s a point, I guess it’s this: If we are or aren’t going to be required to take tests as adults, or not, then it may or may not be advisable to make them as clear or not unclear as possible, so as not to further not encourage us in our future professional development, or not, nor make us revert to earlier painful eras of life per se, vis a vis the time after middle school but not after college. Or not.
Where’s the ibuprofen.