Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
  Home - Intelligence Test Articles

Alternative Test 2: Counting The Value Of Stamps

PROCEDURE. Place before the subject a cardboard on which are pasted
three 1-cent and three 2-cent stamps arranged as follows: 111222. Be
sure to lay the card so that the stamps will be right side up for the
child. Say: "_You know, of course, how much a stamp like this costs_
(pointing to a 1-cent stamp). _And you know how much one like this
costs_ (pointing to a 2-cent stamp). _Now, how much money would it take
to buy all these stamps?_"

Do not tell the individual values of the stamps if these are not known,
for it is a part of the test to ascertain whether the child's
spontaneous curiosity has led him to find out and remember their values.
If the individual values are known, but the first answer is wrong, a
second trial may be given. In such cases, however, it is necessary to be
on guard against guessing.

If the child merely names an incorrect sum without saying anything to
indicate how he arrived at his answer, it is well to tell him to figure
it up aloud. "_Tell me how you got it._"

SCORING. Passed if the correct value is given in not over fifteen

REMARKS. The value of this test may be questioned on two grounds: (1)
That it has an ambiguous significance, since failure to pass it may
result either from incorrect addition or from lack of knowledge of the
individual values of the stamps; (2) that familiarity with stamps and
their values is so much a matter of accident and special instruction
that the test is not fair.

Both criticisms are in a measure valid. The first, however, applies
equally well to a great many useful intelligence tests. In fact, it is
only a minority in which success depends on but one factor. The other
criticism has less weight than would at first appear. While it is, of
course, not impossible for an intelligent child to arrive at the age of
9 years without having had reasonable opportunity to learn the cost of
the common postage stamps, the fact is that a large majority have had
the opportunity and that most of those of normal intelligence have taken
advantage of it. It is necessary once more to emphasize the fact that in
its method of locating a test the Binet system makes ample allowance for
"accidental" failures.

Like the tests of naming coins, repeating the names of the days of the
week or the months of the year, giving the date, tying a bow-knot,
distinguishing right and left, naming the colors, etc., this one also
throws light on the child's spontaneous interest in common objects. It
is mainly the children of deficient intellectual curiosity who do not
take the trouble to learn these things at somewhere near the expected

The test was located in year VIII of the Binet scale. However, Binet
used coins, three single and three double sous. Since we do not have
either a half-cent or a 2-cent coin, it has been necessary to substitute
postage stamps. This changes the nature of the test and makes it much
harder. It becomes less a test of ability to do a simple sum, and more a
test of knowledge as to the value of the stamps used. That the test is
easy enough for year VIII when it can be given in the original form is
indicated by all the French, German, and English statistics available,
but four separate series of Stanford tests agree in finding it too hard
for year VIII when stamps are substituted and the test is carried out
according to the procedure described above.

Next: Detecting Absurdities

Previous: Alternative Test 1: Naming The Months

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 4442