Comprehension Second Degree

PROCEDURE. The questions used in this year are:--

(a) "_What's the thing to do if it is raining when you start to


(b) "_What's the thing to do if you find that your house is on


(c) "_What's the thing to do if you are going some place and

miss your train (car)?_"

Note that the wording of the first part of the questions is slightly
r /> different from that in year IV, test 5.

If there is no response, or if the child looks puzzled, the question may

be repeated once or twice. The form of the question must not under any

circumstances be altered. Question _b_, for example, would be materially

changed if we should say: "_Suppose you were to come home from school

and find that your house was burning up. What would you do?_" The

expression "burning up" would probably be much less likely to suggest

calling a fireman than would the words "on fire."

SCORING. _Two out of three_ must be answered correctly. The harder the

comprehension questions are, the greater the variety of answers and the

greater the difficulty of scoring. Because of the difficulty many

examiners find in scoring this test, we will list the most common

satisfactory, unsatisfactory, and doubtful responses to each question.

(a) _If it is raining when you start to school_

_Satisfactory._ "Take umbrella," "Bring a parasol," "Put on

rubbers," "Wear an overcoat," etc. This type of response

occurred 61 times out of 72 successes. "Have my father bring me"

also counts _plus_.

_Unsatisfactory._ "Go home," "Stay at home," "Stay in the

house," "Have the rainbow," "Stay in school," etc. "Stay at

home" is the most common failure and might at first seem to the

examiner to be a satisfactory response. As a matter of fact,

this answer rests on a slight misunderstanding of the question,

the import of which is that one is to go to school and it is


_Doubtful._ "Run" as an answer is a little more troublesome. It

may reasonably be scored _plus_ if it can be ascertained that

the child is accustomed to meet the situation in this way. It is

a common response with children in those regions of the

Southwest where rains are so infrequent that umbrellas are

rarely used. "Bring my lunch" may be considered a satisfactory

response in case the child is in the habit of so doing on rainy


(b) _If you find that your house is on fire_

_Satisfactory._ "Ring the fire alarm," "Call the firemen," "Call

for help," "Put water on it," etc.

_Unsatisfactory._ The most common failure, accounting for nearly

half of all, is to suggest finding other shelter; _e.g._, "Go to

the hotel," "Get another house," "Stay with your friends,"

"Build a new house," etc. Others are: "Tell them you are sorry

it burned down," "Be careful and not let it burn again," "Have

it insured," "Cry," "Call the policeman," etc.

_Doubtful._ Instead of suggesting measures to put out the fire,

a good many children suggest mere escape or the saving of

household articles. Responses of this type are: "Jump out of the

windows," "Save yourself," "Get out as fast as you can," "Save

the baby," "Get my dolls and jewelry and hurry and get out."

These answers are about one seventh as frequent as the perfectly

satisfactory ones, and the rule for scoring them is a matter of

some importance. Under certain circumstances the logical thing

to do would be to save one's self or valuables without wasting

time trying to call help. There may be no help in reach, or a

fire which the child imagines may be too far along for help to

be effective. In order to avoid the possibility of doing a

subject an injustice, it may be desirable to score such answers

_plus_. We must not be too arbitrary.

(c) _If you miss your train_

_Satisfactory._ The answer we expect is, "Wait for another,"

"Take the next car," or something to that effect. This type of

answer includes about 85 per cent of the responses which do not

belong obviously in the unsatisfactory group. "Take a jitney" is

a modern variation of this response which must be counted as


_Unsatisfactory._ These are endless. One continues to meet new

examples of absurdity, however many children one has tested. The

possibilities are literally inexhaustible, but the following are

among the most common: "Wait for it to come back," "Have to

walk," "Be mad," "Don't swear," "Run and try to catch it," "Try

to jump on," "Don't go to that place," "Go to the next station,"


_Doubtful._ The main doubtful response is, "Go home again,"

"Come back next day and catch another," etc. In small or

isolated towns having only one or two trains per day, this is

the logical thing to do, and in such cases the score is _plus_.

Fortunately, only about one answer in ten gives rise to any

difference of opinion among even partly trained examiners.

REMARKS. The three comprehension questions of this group were all

suggested by Binet in 1905. Only one of them, however, "What would you

do if you were going some place and missed your train?" was incorporated

in the 1908 or 1911 series, and this was used in year X with seven

others much harder. The other two remained unstandardized previous to

the Stanford investigation.