Test-Taking Tip: Trap of Familiarity
Trap of Familiarity
Today we want to talk about a trap that can happen when you’re taking your test.
In part of the exam, you may have to do analogies. This is to this as that is to that and you’re trying to find the relationship between words and then find the one that best shares that relationship analogies. And part of the problem is if you’re doing this and you’re going through the test and you suddenly get to a question where you don’t recognize some of the words and the temptation – the trap – we’re going to talk about is that you assume the one word you do recognize has to be the right answer because it’s the one word you recognize. We want to avoid that problem so I’m going to put an example – I’ve got an example here on the board behind me that we want to go over briefly now. It’s a really simple example. You probably already know what all the words mean but but just for sake of illustration, let’s assume you’ve got this question.
What is to speech as coordinated is to movement?
And as you look through the answers, let’s say that the one answer that you recognize immediately is B – rapid. I know what rapid is. I’m not too sure about the rest of these words. What’s prophetic? I don’t understand that so I’ll go with the one that I recognize. Surely the one word that I see there that I recognize immediately – that has to be the right one. This is the trap of familiarity. Sometimes the test takers will put a word, a short, simple familiar word, in the midst of other words that are less familiar and try to get the person to say, well they really don’t know what it is, they’re probably just pick the word that they know out of the list so in this case rapid is there because people understand that there is such a thing as rapid speech just as there is quick walking or rapid movement and its there as a way to sort of trick the person, trap the person. Maybe they don’t know these other words; I don’t recognize this one and I’ll just go with that. You want to slow down at this point. If you’re not sure about a word, just slow down, take a closer look and then start eliminating things that you can immediately eliminate. So part of the strategy then is to avoid the trap of familiarity. If you’re uncertain, you don’t just go immediately to the one word that you know and assume that’s the right word.
Now, in this case, we’ll start looking at the analogy we were given completely – coordinated and movement. So we know there’s something to do with movement and coordination as it relates to movement is going to be similar to whatever that would be and speech and we’ve already said that rapid would be the default one if you didn’t know what the other words meant because it’s the simplest word there. Predictive and prophetic are actually going to be very similar in meaning and let’s say you knew that. Well how am I going to choose between those two? Predictive and prophetic are similar and too close in meaning and too hard to get it so by process of elimination we’ve ended up with D – articulate. Hopefully at this juncture as well and it’s true for any test if you know what the right answer is, you immediately go with the right answer. We’re just talking about if you get yourself in a situation where you’re not sure what the correct answer is and at that point you need to slow down and remember not only the test taking strategies that can be helpful but also some of the pitfalls in standardized tests and that one, of course, is this trap of familiarity. As you know, D is the correct answer here – articulate speech is the same thing as coordinated movement. The analogies are similar or are the same.
Anyway, so remember this particular trap if you’re looking at a question and you’re not sure of some of the words, don’t just automatically gravitate to the one word you do know thinking well that must be the correct answer. Often it’s a trap.