Saturday, February 23, 2013


I came across an ability test in one of the weekend papers today; it was actually a sample general ability and mathematics test paper, which I thought I’d try and answer. The back-story is about students spending large amounts of time and money in private tutoring as they prepare for exams.

The ability-test which, it is said, is able to differentiate accurately between students of very high ability. It’s supposed to be rare for any candidate to score full marks in any of its components.

So back to the sample general ability test… and I should say I haven’t sat for an exam for at least 10 years. But the things that bugged me about exams back then look as if haven’t gone away. I thought, perhaps I might of grown out of it.  I’m talking about how some exam questions can come across in a confusing manner – I’d end up wasting valuable time reading and re-reading the question, attempting to makes sense of the examiner’s intention.

Here is question one:

If the words below were rearranged to form the best sentence, which word would come last?

chances want take any they to not did

a. chances
b. did
c. take
d. they 

   The class solution is apparently (a) giving us “They did not take any chances

However, what does “best” really mean? Secondly, the question is asking us to rearrange the words – not the option to discard words. Yet, it seems the word “to” can be discarded. A more accurate answer would be:

“They did not take any chances to” however, that answer is not an available option.

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