Giving The Date
PROCEDURE. Ask the following questions in order:--
(a) "_What day of the week is it to-day?_"
(b) "_What month is it?_"
(c) "_What day of the month is it?_"
(d) "_What year is it?_"
If the child misunderstands and gives the day of the month for the day
of the week, or _vice versa_, we merely repeat the question with
suitable emphasis, but give no other help.
SCORING. An error of three days in either direction is allowed for _c_,
but _a_, _b_, and _d_ must all be given correctly. If the child makes an
error and spontaneously corrects it, the change is allowed, but
corrections must not be called for or suggested.
REMARKS. Binet originally located this test in year IX, but
unfortunately moved it to year VIII in the 1911 revision. Kuhlmann,
Goddard, and Huey all retain it in year IX, where, according to our own
data, it unquestionably belongs. With the exception of Binet's 1911
results, the statistics for the test are in remarkably close agreement
for children in France, Germany, England, and Eastern and Western United
States. It seems that practically all children in civilized countries
have ample opportunity to learn the divisions of the year, month, and
week, and to become oriented with respect to these divisions. Special
instruction is doubtless capable of hastening time orientation to a
certain degree, but not greatly. Binet tells of a French _ecole
maternelle_ attended by children 4 to 6 years of age, where instruction
was given daily in regard to the date, and yet not a single one of the
children was able to pass this test. This is a beautiful illustration of
the futility of precocious teaching. In spite of well-meant instruction,
it is not until the age of 8 or 9 years that children have enough
comprehension of time periods, and sufficient interest in them, to keep
very close track of the date. Failure to pass the test at the age of
10 or 11 years is a decidedly unfavorable sign, unless the error is very
The fact that normal adults are occasionally unable to give the day of
the month is no argument against the validity of the test, since the
system of tests is so constructed as to allow for accidental failures on
any particular test. As a matter of fact, very nearly 100 per cent of
normal 12-year-old children pass this test.
The unavoidable fault of the test is its lack of uniformity in
difficulty at different dates. It is easier for school children to give
the day of the week on Monday or Friday than on Tuesday, Wednesday, or
Thursday. Mistakes in giving the day of the month are less likely to
occur at the beginning or end of the month than at any other time, while
mistakes in naming the month are most likely to occur then.
It is interesting to compare the four parts of this test in regard to
difficulty. Binet and Bobertag both state that ability to name the year
comes last, but they give no figures. Our own data show that the four
parts of the test are of almost exactly the same difficulty and that
this is true at all ages.