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
ll 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.