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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Test

Tuesday was civil service test day. I applied for some position that required testing. This is common for positions where they do not want morons, yet a 4 year degree is not required.

So they can pay you less.

Anyhow - I have taken these exams before. No big deal. You show up, take the test, then leave. But it is NEVER that simple.

When I get to the testing center, things got really dumb really fast.

First there are four open doors, with a sign over them saying line 1, line 2, line 3, and line 4. And then there were also two random assortment of letters, which I assume are last names.

Clearly they want people to line up in the proper place based on their last names. My last name starts with a C so I get in the "Abjuhazzapqh - Damussahaka" line. I am making up the names, but trust me they were strange. Are these real last names are just made up last names? Who knows.

Nobody else is in line 1. So I figure "HEY GREAT! No standing in line". The strange thing was that nobody was in line 4 either. Everyone was in line 2 and 3. But line 2, 3, and 4 were for people whose last name did not begin with A, B, C, or DA.

Little do I know I am about to look like an idiot. I walk up to the line 1 table and there is a line at it. People in line 2. Now this is confusing. I am told "you have to get in line".

But I am in line! Line 1. You want me to get into line 2 even if my last name starts with "C"??


OK - no problem. So the system was too good. It made too much sense. Clearly it had to be amended to something that made no sense.

I get into line 2. No big deal. Ill just hang out in line 2. Then line 2 is merged into line 3. OK so Ill stand in line 3 now.

But I still have to register with the line 1 table.

Anyhow - not a big deal. On a scale of 1 - 10 this is a negative 5. Not even remotely important.

OH YEA! The building the testing was in had defective toilets. There was water leaking out from under the door to the mens room - which is never a good sign- and reports from the ladies room indicated that the toilets were overflowing as well. With sewage.

OK! So don't step in the water. Got it. I do not go around stepping in strange puddles of water anyway. I hope the County got a discount on the use of the building for the day.

Anyhow that was the check in process.

When the doors closed, we were told to write our SSN on the test form and bubble in the numbers. OK got it. Pretty easy. Then we were told that there were two blank lines, and to write our name and SSN on the blank lines.

Well what would you do? I followed the directions. I put my name and SSN on the blank lines.

THEN the test bookelts were handed out, and we were told to put the test booklet number on the second line.

Well shit, the SSN was already there. Why not say "put your name and SSN on the top line and leave the lower line blank". For that would be proper instructuoins.

So now I have to erase the SSN, put the test book number in its place, and squeeze the SSN in the space left next to my name.

You know, following instructions would be eaiser if COMPLETE instructions were given in the first place. Just saying. You know, in an attempt to be helpful. To make the process better. For I truly believe in continuing excellence. Everything can be inproved. Right??

And then I start the test. It was really easy. First I had to read a paragraph then answer some questions. Then read two paragraphs and answer some quetions. Then a whole page - sometimes containing charts and graphs - and answer some questions.

Now one would think that the concept of "proof reading" would be a part of the process. But no. There were typos on the test. The typos meant that for some questions - there WAS NO CORRECT answer.

So what do you bubble in when none of the answers are correct, and one of the choices is not "none of the above"?

My hearing is pretty good. So I can hear others asking questions to the proctors. The standard answer was either "read it again" or "yea we know about that" or "we found this question this morning".

This morning? Really? So the person who made the test did not take it them self? I would have. I would have taken the test myself. I would have even asked a coworker or supervisor to take it as well. So that little mistakes could be discovered and corrected.

But no. That did not happen.

Anyhow the typos were pretty obvious, so I was able to deduce the correct answer. I think. But I have my doubts as to the validity of the scores. If they can make so many mistakes on the test itself - who the hell knows how accurate the answer key is.

There were also maps to read. Well that is not hard now is it??

Well yes and no. You see, the maps in the test book looked like 10th generation photocopied mess. There were words on the map you could not read. There were shaded areas that were supposed to look different - but they all looked the same. So the key was next to useless. In that an N? M? Who the hell knows, It is in sub micro print, and then in a shaded area to boot.

Now what the crap? You want to test me on my ability to read a map - when the map copy is so crappy that you can not even read it? Hey I got an idea! Here are some tablets found on Easter Island. Nobody has ever been able to decipher them.

Now I want the person who put that map in the test to tell me what this section of the tablet means.

Whats that?? You don't know?? Well why not? The symbols are clear aren't they? That is more than I can say for the map you saw fit to include.

And then there was my personal favorite. The math section. There was some adding to do. And you had to be able to read a table.

Questions were along the lines of "how many items were counted on Monday" - at which time you looked at the table and it told you.

Anyhow one question was "what is the combined weekly average for all data fields". Well there were two data fields, divided into two sections each. So I had to add up sections A and B of field 1, then sections A and B for field 2, then add the total for 1 and 2 together, then divide by 7.

Well the answer I got was not one of the choices. Not even close. So I checked my math. And then I noticed something strange.

One of the "answers" was the total combined figure. Well hell. Problem is the question is asking for an AVERAGE - not a raw total.

So I summon a proctor and point it out. They ask me to read the question. So I did. What is the combined weekly average. Then I point out the concept of taking an average, and then show that none of the answers listed are even close to correct - BUT if I just remove the word "average" from the test question there is a correct answer.

And you know what the answer is? "Well just guess". Just guess? What the crap is that? So I say "there is no point in guessing - since all the answers are wrong".

Well then just change the test question.

Change the test question? Well shit if I am going to change one question I might as well change them all. Then change all the answers. So everyone gets a 100%!!!!!

Anyhow I scratched out the word "average" and then picked the correct answer - assuming I have the power to just change test questions to suit my whims.

After that I was done. Test over. I turned in the materials, and mentioned to the person to took my stuff that someone needed to review the test because there were some problems. They said they knew and indicated that the test would be reviewed.

Which is great. Because if nobody says anything, how are they to know? Are they mind readers? No. Nobody is. And I might not notice my own mistakes. So quality control is good. Pointing out errors is good, because then they can be corrected and the next version can be even better. And so on.

Ill have my score next week. If I did not get a 100, or at least a 98, the answer key is flawed.


Blogger M@ said...

This is why Mexico is conquering us.

Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

Possibly. But tests like this one, even if some of the questions were in error, do weed people out.

I found the test to be very easy. But I am sure that a lot of people who took it failed it or passed it but did not score high enough for it to do them any good.

Blogger Fuzz said...

I don't handle these sort of thing very well. I can never figger out just what exactly they want.

Blogger Lily Strange said...

I've had the line thing happen at EMS continuing education seminars. Fortunately I wasn't confronted with puddles of sewage. I guess they figure that the fact that we deal with poop, piss and blood all the time on the job is enough so they allow us a sewage-free day.

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