Re: What might a writing test be?

Subject: Re: What might a writing test be?
From: Marjo Kuusto <kuusto -at- TRE -dot- TELE -dot- NOKIA -dot- FI>
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 09:46:08 +0200

> > Last week I sent in a resume for a tech writer position I'd seen advertised
> > in the newspaper. In yesterday's mail, I found an application from the
> > company along with two "proofreading tests," with the instructions "Circle
> > any spelling/typographical errors and write in the correct spelling." Hmm!
> > Doesn't seem like a good sign. I know the definition of "technical writer"
> > is both controversial and still evolving, but I've never known it to be
> > synonymous with "proofreader."
> >
> > Think I would've preferred a writing test. :)

> The problem is that proofreading is easier to measure than writing. We
> put ten errors in this document and she caught nine. I imagine that in
> an attempt to avoid lawsuits, HR prefers objective, "he scored 70% but
> she scored 90% and that's why we interviewed her but not him" ways to
> compare people. Of course, whether the test measures what you really do
> on the job is another story, and will eventually be grounds for
> *another* lawsuit...

How about a more complicated but still measurable test?
I had to take a test I was given a text, something
an imaginary engineer had written on a technical matter
I didn't really know anything about. I was just told to
make the text better.

The text had, for example, abbreviations without explanations
-- in the end of the text there was a list of abbreviations
used in the text -- and some abbreviations in the list did
not appear in the text. I was supposed to notice the discrepancies
and also add abbreviations I considered necessary (I also
had glossaries and dictionaries in my use). I was naturally
not told that this was the purpose.

The text also had mistakes in punctuation and spelling.

One of the main points though was that the information in the
text was badly organised. So I reorganized the text. And so on.

In a test like this, If applicants only notice one of the
things, such as they only correct punctuation and spelling,
they fail (has happened).

Depending on how much energy and time you want to put to
testing the applicants, make the text longer or shorter,
things to be corrected more difficult...


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