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Comprehension Fourth Degree

The questions for this year are:--

(a) "_What ought you to say when some one asks your opinion
about a person you don't know very well?_"
(b) "_What ought you to do before undertaking (beginning)
something very important?_"
(c) "_Why should we judge a person more by his actions than by
his words?_"

The PROCEDURE is the same as for the previous comprehension tests. Each
question may be repeated, but its form must not be changed. It is not
permissible to make any explanation whatever as to the meaning of the
question, except to substitute _beginning_ for _undertaking_ when (b)
seems not to be comprehended.

SCORING. _Two out of the three_ questions must be answered
satisfactorily. Study of the following classified responses should make
scoring fairly easy in most cases:--

(a) _When some one asks your opinion_

_Satisfactory._ "I would say I don't know him very well"
(42 per cent of the correct answers). "Tell him what I know and
no more" (34 per cent of correct answers). "I would say that I'd
rather not express any opinion about him" (20 per cent of the
correct answers). "Tell him to ask some one else." "I would not
express any opinion."

_Unsatisfactory._ Unsatisfactory responses are due either to
failure to grasp the import of the question, or to inability to
suggest the appropriate action demanded by the situation.

The latter form of failure is the more common; e.g.: "I'd say
they are nice." "Say you like them." "Say what I think." "Say
it's none of their business." "Tell them I mind my own
business." "Say I would get acquainted with them." "Say that I
don't talk about people." "Say I didn't know how he looked."
"Tell them you ought not to say such things; you might get into
trouble." "I wouldn't say anything." "I would try to answer."
"Say I did not know his name," etc.

The following are samples of failure due to mistaking the import
of the question: "I'd say, 'How do you do?'" "Say,'I'm glad to
meet you.'"

(b) _Before undertaking something important_

_Satisfactory responses_ fall into the following classes:--
(1) Brief statement of preliminary consideration; as: "Think
about it." "Look it over." "Plan it all out." "Make your
plans." "Stop and think," etc.
(2) Special emphasis on preliminary preparation and correct
procedure; as: "Find out the best way to do it." "Find out
what it is." "Get everything ready." "Do every little thing
that would help you." "Get all the details you can." "Take
your time and figure it out," etc.
(3) Asking help; as: "Ask some one to help you who knows all
about it." "Pray, if you are a Christian." "Ask advice,"
(4) Preliminary testing of ability, self-analysis, etc.; as:
"Try something easier first." "Practice and make sure I
could do it." "Learn how to do it," etc.
(5) Consider the wisdom or propriety of doing it: "Think whether
it would be best to do it." "See whether it would be

About 65 per cent of the correct responses belong either to
group (1) or (2), about 20 per cent to group (3), and most of
the remainder to group (4).

_Unsatisfactory responses_ are of the following types:--
(1) Due to mistaking the import of the question; e.g.: "Ask for
it." "Ought to say please." "Ask whose it is." Replies of
this kind can be nearly all eliminated by repeating the
question, using _beginning_ instead of _undertaking_.
(2) Replies more or less absurd or irrelevant; as: "Promise to
do your best." "Wash your face and hands." "Get a lot of
insurance." "Dress up and take a walk." "Tell your name."
"Know whether it's correct." "Begin at the beginning." "Say
you will do it." "See if it's a fake." "Go to school a long
time." "Pass an examination." "Do what is right." "Add up
and see how much it will cost." "Say I would do it." "Just
start doing it." "Go away." "Consult a doctor." "See if you
have time," etc.

(c) _Why we should judge a person more by his actions than by his words_

_Satisfactory responses_ fall into the following classes:--
(1) Words and deeds both mentioned and contrasted in
reliability; as: "Actions speak louder than words" (this in
8 per cent of successes). "You can tell more by his actions
than by his words." "He might talk nice and do bad things."
"Sometimes people say things and don't do them." "It's not
what you say but what you do that counts." "Talk is cheap;
when he does a thing you can believe it." "People don't do
everything they say." "A man might steal but talk like a
nice man." Over 45 per cent of all correct responses belong
to group (1).
(2) Acts stressed without mention of words; as: "You can tell by
his actions whether he is good or not." "If he _acts_ nice
he _is_ nice." "Actions show for themselves." Group (2)
contains about 25 per cent of the correct responses.
(3) Emphasis on unreliability of words; as: "You can't tell by
his words, he might lie or boast." "Because you can't always
believe what people say." (Group (3) contains 15 per cent of
the correct responses.)
(4) Responses which state that a man's deeds are sometimes
better than his words; as: "He might talk ugly and still not
do bad things." "Some really kind-hearted people scold and
swear." "A man's words may be worse than his deeds," etc.
Group (4) contains over 10 per cent of the correct

_Unsatisfactory responses_ are usually due to inability to
comprehend the meaning of the question. If there is a complete
lack of comprehension the result is either silence or a totally
irrelevant response. If there is partial comprehension of the
question the response may be partially relevant, but fail to
make the expected distinction.

The following are sample failures: "You could tell by his words
that he was educated." "It shows he is polite if he acts nice."
"Sometimes people aren't polite." "Actions show who he might
be." "Acts may be foolish." "Words ain't right." "A man might be
dumb." "A fellow don't know what he says." "Some people can
talk, but don't have control of themselves." "You can tell by
his acts whether he goes with bad people." "If he doesn't act
right you know he won't talk right." "Actions show if he has
manners." "Might get embarrassed and not talk good." "He may not
know how to express his thoughts." "He might be a rich man but a
poor talker." "He might say the wrong thing and afterwards be
sorry for it," etc. (The last four are nearer correct than the
others, but they fall just short of expressing the essential

REMARKS. For discussion of the comprehension questions as a test of
intelligence, see page 158.

Binet used eight questions, three "easy" and five "difficult," and
required that five out of eight be answered correctly in year X. The
eight were as follows:--

(1) What to do when you have missed your train.
(2) When you have been struck by a playmate, etc.
(3) When you have broken something, etc.
(4) When about to be late for school.
(5) When about to undertake something important.
(6) Why excuse a bad act committed in anger more readily than a bad
act committed without anger.
(7) What to do if some one asks your opinion, etc.
(8) Why can you judge a person better by his actions, etc.

As we have shown, questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 are much too easy for year X.
Question 6 is hard enough for year XII. We have omitted it because it
was not needed and is not entirely satisfactory.

Next: Naming Sixty Words

Previous: Reading For Eight Memories

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