Tests into Puzzles III

Crossword 2LOOK . . . THEN LEAP.

Always look over a test — any test — before you start.


You’re  trying to get the feel of it.  What sort of a test is it?  Do the questions look easy?  Hard?  Do you see any item you can answer right off the bat?

Take a look at this test.  You’ll probably notice a trick question or two, the sort you’ve probably seen before.  OK, so it’s a trick test.  I’m tipping my hand here, but you could figure that out yourself if you browse it first.  Right?

So go ahead an see how many points you can rack up.  I’ll provide the answers the test-maker wants (not necessarily the most intelligent or thoughtful answers) and comment later on what I think the test really measures.



Test Your What?

Allow yourself a maximum of eight minutes. Then check your answers.

1. Allow yourself five minutes to rearrange the letters 0-W-D—
E-N-A-R-W to spell a new word—but not a proper name, nor anything foreign or “unnatural.” Write it out.


2. Quickly now: How many animals of each species did Adam take
aboard the Ark with him? (Note that the question is not how many pairs , but how many animals.)


3. What unusual characteristics do these six words have in common?
DEFT SIGHING CALMNESS CANOPY FIRST STUN (Please complete your answer within five minutes.)

4. Figure out this problem in diplomatic relations: If an international
airliner crashed exactly on the U. S.-Canadian border, where would they be required by international law to bury the survivors? (If you can’t decide within one minute what your answer will be, please go on to the next item.)

5. What is the minimum number of active baseball players on the
playing field during any part of an inning?

6. Figure out this problem within one minute: If one face of a cube
measures 2″ x 4″, what is the area of each of the faces, and what is the total area of all eight faces? (Jot down your answer in the margin.)

7. A farmer had 17 sheep. All but nine died. How many did he have left?

8. An archeologist reported finding two gold coins dated 46 B. C.
Later, at a dinner in his honor, he was thoroughly and openly discredited by a disgruntled fellow archeologist. Why?

9, A man living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, may not be
buried in a state west of the Mississippi River—nor in Hawaii or Alaska— even in the event of Presidential intervention. Why is this?

10. If you went to bed at 8 o’clock last night, and set your alarm clock
to get up at 9 o’clock this morning, why on earth—after 13 hours’ rest, especially!—are you so sleepy today?

11. If you had only one match, and entered a room to start up a
kerosene lamp, an oil heater, and a wood-burning stove, which would you light first—and why?

12. Quickly, now: Divide 30 by 1/2, and add 10. What is the answer?

13. If your doctor gave you three pills, and told you to take one every
half hour, how long would it require for you to take all of them?

14. Two men played checkers. They played five games, and each man
won three. How do you explain this?

15. Look at these phrases, for a moment, to get them firmly in mind:

Triangle  Words
Now look away and write down these exact phrases.


Answers and Comments


This is a test-taking test.

As always, you’ll rack up the most points if you’re relaxed and playful.  So you begin by messing around.

Browse     Browse     Browse

Yes, it’s a trick test, and  logical reasoning is actually a hindrance.  There are some old chestnuts here, and you’re likely to see the wanted answers to some of them right off. Once you know the game, you know how to play.

1.  If you try to work this out logically, you’ll use up your 8 minutes.  So if you don’t see the trick, for heaven’s sake, skip it! and do the easy questions first.  The wanted answer is  a new word.  The test-maker tries to make it seem hard by distracting you and uses your reading strengths against you: “Allow five minutes . . .” And so on.  Once you catch on, it’s a breeze.  He uses the same tricks over and over.

2.  OK, so it was Noah, not Adam.  All the surrounding stuff is there to keep you from noticing the word Adam.  Once you catch on, you can go back and check your answers.

3.  Most of the questions on this test call for the same kind of thinking and the same level of thinking, but this one is different.  So if you don’t see a solution right away, you should set it aside.  If you have time at the end, you can come back to it.  Answer: They all have alphabetical sequences of letters in them:   DEF, GHI, LMN, NOP, RST, and STU. [Unless the test-maker defines what he means by “unusual” there could be all sorts of “correct”answers .]

4.  The test-maker camouflages the phrase bury the survivors with underlinings, italics and helpful hints – all intended to take your eye off the obvious: You don’t bury survivors.  Shady salesmen write up contracts this way, too.  But you already knew that.

In any test, find out what’s really being asked.


Nervous test-takers tend to  skim questions or misread them.  Treat the test like hopscotch.  Rack up points.

5.  Oh, well, he wants the batter included.  Answer: Ten   If you wanted to get pushy about it, you could question what the test-maker means by “active.”  Usually everybody’s standing still till the pitcher lets fly.  And so on!  This is a poorly worded question.  You should annotate your answer in the margin – but nicely, of course.

6.  If you’re a math whiz, you could easily hurry with the calculation and screw up. You know perfectly well that all sides of a cube are equal, so a face can’t be 2 by 4.   This question is set up the way Number 4 is, isn’t it –  lots of diverting instructions.

7.  All BUT nine died.  Get it?    Same trick as the Noah / Adam question.

On any test helpful clues are scattered all over.

8.  Well, you should know this far into the “test” that the answer in right there on the surface.  The test doesn’t require knowledge of archaeology – or anything else!  If you don’t catch on right away, come back later.  B. C. might pop right out at you.

9.  A man LIVING should not be buried – no matter where he lives. There have already been a couple of questions like this –  2, 4, ans 7, for example.

10.  By now you know there’s bound to be something tricky in the wording.  The 13 hours phrase is a tip-off, but you can visualize setting the clock for 9 and hitting the sack at 8.  You can see what would happen.  The test-maker probably doesn’t have a twenty-four-hour clock.

If you take this question seriously, you can waste a lot of time.  This test does not require imaginative thinking, only familiarity with parlor games.

Keep your responses within the test-maker’s level of thought.

These questions are suitable for seventh or eighth graders, wouldn’t you say?

11.  A good reader thinks the word which refers only to lamp, heater, and stove.  The test-maker is counting on it.  But you know this isn’t a very sophisticated test.

On any test, you can actually build your skill with it as you go along. 

12.  Divide 30 by ½ .  “Quickly” throws you off.

If a question looks too easy, read it more slowly and more carefully.

How may halves are there in 30?  Now, that’s more like it.  Then you’re to add 10.  The wanted answer is 70.  But add 10 halves? Or 10 wholes —  which would be 20 halves?  Not that simple after all, but think at the level the test and put down 70.

13.  Visualize.

One, say, at 7, next at 7:30, next at 8.  Bingo: One hour.


Slow down when a question looks easy.

Rule: Relax if it’s hard.  Sweat if it’s easy.

14.  The test-maker leaves out information you need.  But this is a trick test, so you’re on to him and you see, aha!, they didn’t play each other.  This omission is deliberate, but teachers sometimes  inadvertently leave out needed information, too.

On school tests, if needed information is missing, ask for it.

15.  This question counts on you’re being a good reader.  Good readers read for ideas.  A copyeditor or proofreader  would see the wanted response right away, the duplications of THE, THE; A, A; THE, THE; and  AT, AT.

If you followed the lead of Question 1, though, you might have answered, “these exact phrases.”  But the test-maker isn’t all that swift, so you’d better go with the other answer.



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