Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things You Learn as a Psych Major

Over the years, my psychology classes have given me useful information. No, not on analyzing people-but clues about test taking.

In taking tests and measures, we're learning a lot about creating good tests and effective test questions. Other things that we learned recently:

That most test writers don't want the answer to a multiple choice question to be A, so the a larger number of correct responses than the norm are B & C. So, if you're stuck between two answers, and one is B or C, the odds are in favor of that being the correct response.

The longest response is usually the correct one.

Psych professors tend to write questions that make you laugh out loud while taking a test. For instance, the mean Miss America contestant has an IQ of 100, with a variance of 400. What is the likelihood of Miss South Carolina's IQ being greater than Condoleeza Rice (IQ 145)?" The rest of the Z score questions went along those lines.

Then, included in the test this morning, there were such gems as "Russ (the professor) is totally focused on singing Celine Dion songs loudly in the shower that he has tuned out all external stimuli. What is this an example of?" The answer is flow, but the mental image was hilarious-and easily half the test had pop culture figures engaged in various activities to represent the mental processes that we were being tested on.

What seems to happen with the psych courses I've taken is that the professors figure if they've got you laughing in the first couple of questions, your test anxiety will be minimized. (If you have it, that is.) Smart thinking.

1 People talked back:

Stress Judo said...

This is a neat idea, using humorous questions. Law school exmas used pop culture references, but they always came across as smug and arrogant, not lighthearted. Much like law professors. hmmm....
Rick Carter