Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Urban legends from the test prep industry

A customer just sent me an email that is very useful in bringing up the urban legends that surround the world of the Series 7, 6, 65, etc.

Mr. Walker, When I took the series 6 test, my class instructor told us that we should do the math questions last. He says that math questions are a different mind set and should be done after you finish the other word problems. The instructor also said that people generally miss the next 1-3 questions after a math question has been thrown in the mix of questions. Do you find that to the case?

Something about the test prep industry attracts pontificators who have no basis for their pontifications. Luckily, their pronouncements are usually harmless, like this one. I wouldn't be surprised if he told you that Procter & Gamble pays dividends in the form of soap and toothpaste, too. Many of these urban legends are repeated for decades, even though maybe 2% are based in truth. Like "when in doubt, choose the longest answer" or "choose Answer C."
There's no science behind any of that. If there were some good science I could use to give you an edge on the exam, I would do so. But, there isn't any science behind it. It's just like investing--we can pretend that our efficient frontier, standard deviation, and sharpe ratio give us scientific precision, or we can admit how far from science we actually operate and just use sound "money management" practices. If the stock is going down, sell it. I don't need a formula--just sell my losers, and hold my winners. I take a similar approach to the exams. I recommend that you simply manage your time wisely. After 30 seconds, if you're still baffled by the question, give it an answer and mark it for review. Keep moving. Maybe you'll have 30 minutes left and 15 questions that were marked for review. Now you can really fight with those 15 hard ones and only change your answer if you're SURE you've seen the light.

Unfortunately, there is no insider information to disseminate on how to pass the exams. Just learn the concepts, use good test-taking skills, and try to keep a cool head at the testing center.

No comments:

Post a Comment