Understanding the Firefighter Test Maker's Tactics
As a test taker, you will be more skilled if you know how a test maker thinks. Your test taking strategies must anticipate the test maker's strategies. With multiple choice questions, the problem for the test maker is to create three bad answers for every good answer. To appreciate the test maker's problems and to improve your own ability as a test taker, you should practice making up a few questions yourself. Here is some material to work with. Below is a short reading passage from a Fire Academy training manual, followed by four answer choices. As it appears below, all the answer choices are correct. You should try to come up with some other answer choices which would be wrong, or make some little changes in these answer choices so that they are no longer correct. Sometimes it is necessary to cut holes in the roof or floors of a building to release bottled up heat and smoke. During roof or floor cutting operations, everyone in the vicinity of a saw in operation shall observe, as near as possible and practical, a 20 foot radius Circle of Danger. Only the Officer, the Operator and the Guide Man may enter this circle. All persons directly to the rear of the operating saw blade must be warned away, as the saw may throw debris 20 feet or more. Side pressure or twisting of the blade when operating should be avoided. The saw should never be forced. If too much pressure is applied to the blade, the hazard of blade breakage (carbide tipped) or blade shattering (aluminum oxide or silicon carbide discs) is increased. A blade which breaks or shatters during cutting may cause serious injury to the Operator or others in the area.
Based on the information above, it would be most correct to say that:
No doubt, you can think of many ways to make three of the above answer choices wrong. But you probably would not want to make an answer choice so obviously wrong that no one would ever choose it. There is no point making up answers if no one will choose them. The idea is to make an answer wrong, but still give it some appeal so that it will be an effective "distracted" from the right answer. Here are some test maker tactics for doing that.
1. Overstate the point. In the example, you could change 20 feet to 25 feet. Or you could say that side pressure will definitely or always cause the blade to break or shatter. Or you could insist rigidly on the 20 foot circle, forgetting that the rule says, "as near as possible and practical." Of you could say that the Officer must be in the circle instead of that he may be in the circle.
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