Comprehension Third Degree
The questions for this year are:--
(a) "_What's the thing for you to do when you have broken
something which belongs to some one else?_"
(b) "_What's the thing for you to do when you notice on your way
to school that you are in danger of being tardy?_"
(c) "_What's the thing for you to do if a playmate hits you
without meaning to do it?_"
The procedure is
the same as in previous comprehension questions.
Each question may be repeated once or twice, but its form must not be
changed. No explanations are permissible.
_Question a (If you have broken something)_
_Satisfactory responses_ are those suggesting either restitution
or apology, or both. Confession is not satisfactory unless
accompanied by apology. The following are satisfactory: "Buy a
new one." "Pay for it." "Give them something instead of it."
"Have my father mend it." "Apologize." "Tell them I'm sorry,
that I did not mean to break it," etc. Of 92 correct answers, 76
suggested restitution, while 16 suggested apology, or apology
_Unsatisfactory._ "Tell them I did it." "Go tell my mother."
"Feel sorry." "Be ashamed." "Pick it up," etc. Mere confession
accounts for over 20 per cent of all failures.
_Question b (In danger of being tardy)_
_Satisfactory._ The expected response is, "Hurry," "Walk
faster," or something to that effect. One bright city boy said
he would take a car. Of the answers not obviously incorrect,
nearly 95 per cent suggest hurrying. The rule ordinarily
recommended is to grade all other responses _minus_. But this
rule is too sweeping to be followed blindly. One who would use
intelligence tests must learn to discriminate. "I would go back
home and not go to school that day" is a good answer in those
cases (fortunately rare) in which children are forbidden by the
teacher to enter the schoolroom if tardy. "Go back home and get
mother to write an excuse" would be good policy if by so doing
the child might escape the danger of incurring an extreme
penalty. When teachers inflict absurd penalties for unexcused
tardiness, it is the part of wisdom for children to incur no
risks! When such a response is given, it is well to inquire into
the school's method of dealing with tardiness and to score the
_Unsatisfactory._ "Go to the principal." "Tell the teacher I
couldn't help it." "Have to get an excuse." "Go to school
anyway." "Get punished." "Not do it again." "Not play hooky."
"Start earlier next time," etc.
Lack of success results oftenest from failure to get the exact
shade of meaning conveyed by the question. It is implied, of
course, that something is to be done at once to avoid tardiness;
but the subject of dull comprehension may suggest a suitable
thing to do in case tardiness has been incurred. Hence the
response, "I would go to the principal and explain." Answers of
this type are always unsatisfactory.
_Question c (Playmate hits you)_
_Satisfactory responses_ are only those which suggest either
excusing or overlooking the act. These ideas are variously
expressed as follows: "I would excuse him" (about half of all
the correct answers). "I would say 'yes' if he asked my pardon."
"I would say it was all right." "I would take it for a joke." "I
would just be nice to him." "I would go right on playing." "I
would take it kind-hearted." "I would not fight or run and tell
on him." "I would not blame him for it." "Ask him to be more
_Unsatisfactory responses_ are all those not of the above two
types; as: "I would hit them back." "I would not hit them back,
but I would get even some other way." "Tell them not to do it
again." "Tell them to 'cut it out.'" "Tell him it's a wrong
thing to do." "Make him excuse himself." "Make him say he's
sorry." "Would not play with him." "Tell my mamma." "I would ask
him why he did it." "He'd say 'excuse me' and I'd say 'thank
you.'" "He should excuse me." "He is supposed to say 'excuse
REMARKS. All three comprehension questions of this year were used by
Binet, Goddard, Huey, and others in year X; two of them in the "easy
series" and one in the "hard series." The Stanford data show that they
belong at the 8-year level on the standard of scoring above set forth.
The three differ little among themselves in difficulty, but all of them
are decidedly easier than the other five used by Binet. It would be
absurd to go on using the comprehension questions as Binet bunched them,
eight together, ranging in difficulty from one which is easy enough for
6-year intelligence ("What's the thing to do if you miss your train?")
to one which is hard for the 12-year level ("Why is a bad act done when
one is angry more excusable than the same act done when one is not