A few years ago, when I was teaching high school in Missouri, the first of the “accountability” tests began to surface.  An “accountability” test is a test that a student must take in order to move up a grade, or in the case of the state of Missouri then, graduate.  To that end, the Basic Essential Skills Test or BEST Test was created.  No matter how you did in your regular classes in high school, if you did not pass the BEST Test, you could not graduate (I do not know what Missouri does at the present time.

Anyway, a colleague of mine and I created what we called the BETTER Test and distributed it to our fellow faculty members.  Our greatest fear was that some of them would think it was a real exam and ask about when they should take it.  🙂


Scholastic Education Council on New Directions

Dear Educator,

What determines the quality of a college education? The Scholastic Education Council on New Directions has been working on this problem for some time. As a result of this work, the Council has developed the Basic Essential Skills Test.

This test, the Scholastic Education Council on New Directions Basic Essential Skills (SECOND BEST) test, is one method of measuring subject matter competency and decision making skills. Scores for this test will be available to potential employers and college administrators so that the relative skills of college graduates can be compared.

Several of the questions from this test are included with this letter. Your comments would be appreciated.


G. Frank Fitzgerald, Chair

Department of Testing

Scholastic Council on New Directions


Sample Questions from the

Scholastic Education Council on New Directions

Basic Essential Skills Test

  1. You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of scotch. Remove your own appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have 15 minutes.
  2. 2500 riot-crazed students are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.
  3. Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate it and perform it with flute and drums. You will find a piano under your seat.
  4. Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your hypothesis.
  5. The dissembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed on your desk. In 10 minutes, a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.
  6. There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War III. Report at length on its sociopolitical effects, if any.
  7. Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.
  8. Define the universe. Give three examples.

3 thoughts on “THE BETTER TEST

  1. Pingback: The Better Test « Thoughts From The Heart On The Left

  2. Pingback: “The Real Final Exam” | Thoughts From The Heart On The Left

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