Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Earlier today, I decided to take the two tests

that Mat linked to and wondered at the criteria he used to prefer those to mine. I realize the bias in my test as well as the bias on the other two test. However, I noticed that of the two tests, there were 5 questions out of the 20 multiple choice that did not offer a correct answer at all, regardless of your political slant (#1 & #5 on Test One, and #1, #2, #5 on Test Two).

Consider this example:

1. The anti-war movement supports our troops by urging that they be brought home immediately so they neither kill nor get killed in a unjust war. How has the Bush administration shown its support for our troops?
a. The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee voted to
cut $25 billion in veterans benefits over the next 10 years.

b. The Bush administration proposed cutting $172 million from
impact aid programs which provide school funding for children of military

c. The administration ordered the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to
stop publicizing health benefits available to veterans.

d. All of the above.

The question asks what the Bush Administration has done to show support for the troops, but then only offers choices that make Bush look bad. What’s more, "d" says "all of the above," instead of none of the above. Perhaps the test writers actually believe that the Bush Administration actions they cited do support the troops? To make this a legitimate question, a "none of the above" option should be included or an actual example of how Bush supports the troops should be added. There are plenty of examples the test writers could have offered – most soldiers know these, the test writers should, too. If the test writers were graded on answerable multiple choice questions provided, they would have a combined average of 75%.

Then there are several questions that were too steeped in subjectivity and chaff to have any adequate answer. The worst examples were #4, #9, #10 from Test One and #4, #10 from Test Two. For example, #4 asked what the al Qaeda threat today is and then offered 3 quotes saying its worse, with a fourth option of “all of the above.” Simple quotes are not facts, and in this case, the quotes did not provide any sort legitimate choice to answer the question. The question could have asked, which of the following are quotes from such-n-such critics of the war. Any college professor that’s not far to the left (I know I’ve narrowed the field quite a bit) would throw these questions out, bringing the test writers average down to 50%. If one were to grade the answer key, the score would be considerably lower.

Some of the questions confused me. Test One Question #7, which mentions that there was not mass slaughter in the Iraq war as in Dresden and Hiroshima, lists some troubling (but unprecendentally light as wars go) examples of Iraqi suffering (which I can’t vouch one way or the other for – accuracy-wise.). What was the purpose of the question? Surely the test writers do not believe that we fought a relatively delicate war that sought to avoid civilian bloodshed? I mean, I believe that, but I have hard time thinking they do.

Test One Question #9 did not stand the test of time too well. I’m sure the line of conspiracy theory has been redrawn a few times since then. Test Two Question #3 has “d” as the correct answer, but option "a" is incorrect. And there seemed to be plenty of that throughout both tests.

I could be wrong (and let me know if you think so), but after going back over the format of my test, I concluded that while admittingly projecting a hawkish view, at least all the questions had correct answers. It’s a shame that the other tests did not – especially since it seems apparent that those fellows spent a great deal more time writing their tests than I did mine.

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