What is the difference between being a "bad test taker" and just being dumb?

flatearth22

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I always hear about people saying that they are "bad at multiple choice tests" or that they have have "bad test-taking skills"....are they just in denial about being dumb? I often hear this cliche from people with >3.8 GPA's and < 30 MCAT (or for other fields, a combination of high-end GPA with borderline/low-end standardized test score).
 

Web MD

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Thank God you're back.

To answer your question, it's the difference between being an alpha and being a beta personality wise. People that say they are bad test takers are weak human beings, and would make terrible doctors (luckily they never score well enough to get in)
 

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Sigh....
I wouldn't be too wrong in saying that test taking abilities are a skill in themselves.
 
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Hotshy

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I think being dumb would consist of properly preparing and not doing well at all.

Bad test taker, someone who averages like 36 on their practice aamc then scores a 31 on the real deal.

I don't know, I've heard a lot of people at my undergrad claim their "bad test takers" but then when I talk to them they really don't understand what they think they do. Kind of dumb.
 

Stumpyman

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I hate the label "dumb." What makes you dumb? I had a low gpa first two years of High school, after three semesters of college I have a 4.0 gpa, and a bio internship. I think that most of them time being a bad test taker simply means the person didn't study well enough, however, I am sure there are cases out there who just can't deal with the fact that the test is timed, extremely important, multiple choice, etc.
 

maxx52188

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Tosh does a pretty funny bit on people who claim to bad test takers. Im probably going to butcher it, but it goes a little something like this;

"I hate when people claim theyre bad test takers...'OH im great with the material, but im really bad at test taking.' You mean you understand the material fine but as soon as they attempt to test you on what you know you fail?


Yaaaaaaaaaaaa. Im a phenominal painter, but as soon as i touch pad to brush I have a parkinsons-like episode."
 

DrBowtie

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Tosh does a pretty funny bit on people who claim to bad test takers. Im probably going to butcher it, but it goes a little something like this;

"I hate when people claim theyre bad test takers...'OH im great with the material, but im really bad at test taking.' You mean you understand the material fine but as soon as they attempt to test you on what you know you fail?


Yaaaaaaaaaaaa. Im a phenominal painter, but as soon as i touch pad to brush I have a parkinsons-like episode."
"Don't you love it when people in school are like, 'I'm a bad test taker.' You mean you're stupid. Oh, you struggle with that part where we find out what you know? I can totally relate see, because I'm a brilliant painter minus my god awful brushstrokes. Oh, how the masterpiece is crystal up here but once paint hits canvas I develop Parkinson's. "
 

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"Don't you love it when people in school are like, 'I'm a bad test taker.' You mean you're stupid. Oh, you struggle with that part where we find out what you know? I can totally relate see, because I'm a brilliant painter minus my god awful brushstrokes. Oh, how the masterpiece is crystal up here but once paint hits canvas I develop Parkinson's. "
:laugh:
 

Medwell

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I always hear about people saying that they are "bad at multiple choice tests" or that they have have "bad test-taking skills"....are they just in denial about being dumb? I often hear this cliche from people with >3.8 GPA's and < 30 MCAT (or for other fields, a combination of high-end GPA with borderline/low-end standardized test score).
Yeah, it's hilarious when people try to use that excuse. I always wonder, if you're such a "bad test taker", how did you get that >3.8 GPA? Did your classes not have any tests in them? :laugh:

The difference is: all tests in school can be aced if you study enough for them, because there's always a finite amount of material that each test can cover. On the other hand, doing well on standardized tests involves more problem solving and assimilating/processing information quickly, which is not a skill that you can do well at by studying a lot - you actually have to be intelligent. So while these self-proclaimed "bad test takers" can do well on tests in school by studying constantly, their usual tactic doesn't work on standardized tests since they don't know exactly what to expect.
 

arfc6

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My friend who is a teacher and works with kids with learning disabilities helps kids all the time who are very bright but need extra time and accomodations on tests in order to do well.
 
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TheGloaming

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One thing I've noticed with people who do poorly on tests is that they psych themselves out too quickly if they don't know how to do a problem at first glance. Clearly, this is only true with some types of problems. Often they have all the knowledge to answer the question, its just a matter of combining facts, info, and/or equations to find the solution.
 

Medwell

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My friend who is a teacher and works with kids with learning disabilities helps kids all the time who are very bright but need extra time and accomodations on tests in order to do well.
If the kids don't do well when tested, what makes your friend think they're bright?
 
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"Don't you love it when people in school are like, 'I'm a bad test taker.' You mean you're stupid. Oh, you struggle with that part where we find out what you know? I can totally relate see, because I'm a brilliant painter minus my god awful brushstrokes. Oh, how the masterpiece is crystal up here but once paint hits canvas I develop Parkinson's. "
Now this sounds like Tosh, the other guy did butcher it. Classic!:laugh:
 

arfc6

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^Because the reason they didn't do well isn't because of intellectual capability. It's because they are dyslexic or have severe ADHD or their parents do drugs and so they don't get to eat very often and come to school hungry and can't focus. Not testing well and being dumb are two very different things. Disabilities and economic background prevent many smart people from doing well on tests.
 

SteveJMarist

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I think being dumb would consist of properly preparing and not doing well at all.

Bad test taker, someone who averages like 36 on their practice aamc then scores a 31 on the real deal.

I don't know, I've heard a lot of people at my undergrad claim their "bad test takers" but then when I talk to them they really don't understand what they think they do. Kind of dumb.
What about someone that averages a 31 and gets a 31? ;)
 

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It's mental. Oftentimes it's a psychological effect with being under timed conditions and knowing that you are being judged. I love essay tests more than multi choice because I am a good writer and I relate it to talking to my buddies or whatever.
 
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isoquin

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Whoa there trollfail. someone has clearly never gone to med school. I've seen really intelligent people who are horrible at getting pimped appear as if they were dumb in front of attendings. When you see something similar in real time happening right in front of you, you'll never ask that question again. Being tested is one way of assessing intelligence, but it requires numerous other things in play, including but not limited to language, being able to take the pressure of being tested, and understanding question style. If that wasn't an issue, there wouldn't be entire prep courses on test-taking skills, and question banks on similar style questions. You prep for the MCAT by taking MCAT-style questions and you prep for med school boards with USMLE style questions to improve those test taking abilities you think don't exist.

I guarantee that if I gave you and an 8 year old korean boy a simple exam on basic math and science, but the exam was in korean, you'd be a "bad test taker" in comparison and it would have little to do with your actual intelligence.
 

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I understand this condition now. There is a girl in my study group and she knows the material down cold. She can explain material to others, she aces homeworks, etc. But when it comes time to do a test, she is very slow and she will get anywhere from a low B to a solid F. Everybody else in my study group (including the ones I have doubts about) gets the top scores in the class.

The really frustrating thing is she can explain all of her testing mistakes when she gets the test back. It's like the professor says TIMED TEST, and her brain promptly falls out her butt.
 
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I think bad test taker's problems are the study methods. These people give their efforts to reach their goal but approach in a wrong way. Hence, the result does not always correlate with the amount of effort that was invested. In the other hand, being dumb, the term you used, originates from not giving any effort at all. In short, the difference between these two terms is the effort.
 

Geekchick921

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One thing I've noticed with people who do poorly on tests is that they psych themselves out too quickly if they don't know how to do a problem at first glance. Clearly, this is only true with some types of problems. Often they have all the knowledge to answer the question, its just a matter of combining facts, info, and/or equations to find the solution.
I think psyching themselves out in general is a big part of the problem. I agree some people are just kidding themselves, but I do think some other people are akin to those with great voices but choke when they're on stage and expected to sing. They can't handle the pressure.
 
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Whoa there trollfail. someone has clearly never gone to med school. I've seen really intelligent people who are horrible at getting pimped appear as if they were dumb in front of attendings. When you see something similar in real time happening right in front of you, you'll never ask that question again. Being tested is one way of assessing intelligence, but it requires numerous other things in play, including but not limited to language, being able to take the pressure of being tested, and understanding question style. If that wasn't an issue, there wouldn't be entire prep courses on test-taking skills, and question banks on similar style questions. You prep for the MCAT by taking MCAT-style questions and you prep for med school boards with USMLE style questions to improve those test taking abilities you think don't exist.

I guarantee that if I gave you and an 8 year old korean boy a simple exam on basic math and science, but the exam was in korean, you'd be a "bad test taker" in comparison and it would have little to do with your actual intelligence.
I cannot agree with you more.
 

ponyo

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2 examples of bad test takers

1. Black women taking a math test.

I feel like everybody knows these studies already, but they showed that if you make a black person fill out his race prior to taking a standardised exam (no other signals, literally just a "what is your race" box on the test), he'll do significantly worse than a black person who didn't. Same with women, but only on math tests. A white person who fills out his race doesn't show any difference, but he does if you casually mention that Asian people tend to do really well on math beforehand. Asian people get a + factor from filling out race. They tested a lot of subtleties like this, which was brilliant, because it elegantly teases out the effect of race stereotyping on standardised testing abilities versus actual ability. Now I don't like to extrapolate too much but I think in this case you can make a point about the stereotypes we get bombarded with every day + perception people have about themselves on an individual basis.

2. Different type of intelligence

So I guess some people can be specifically "dumb" in different areas. I'm sure we all know people who got 15s on PS and BS but failed the **** out of VR... I don't call them dumb. They just have their abilities confined to certain areas. The same can often be said of some people who fail the **** out of PS and BS because their abilities lie elsewhere. (Pretty sure most are just dumb though.)
 
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Person0715

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I think that test taking skills have an innate component to them. For example, most anyone can study real hard and do quite well on most standardized tests, up to a point where they plateau. After this plateu, the only things that will give you a higher score are probably luck and innate skill.
 

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I understand this condition now. There is a girl in my study group and she knows the material down cold. She can explain material to others, she aces homeworks, etc. But when it comes time to do a test, she is very slow and she will get anywhere from a low B to a solid F. Everybody else in my study group (including the ones I have doubts about) gets the top scores in the class.

The really frustrating thing is she can explain all of her testing mistakes when she gets the test back. It's like the professor says TIMED TEST, and her brain promptly falls out her butt.
I would wager that if this girl gets counseling she could do a lot better. As long as the talent is there, she just needs to work on the anxiety.
 

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The only thing I can think of while reading this thread is an awesome quote I once read:
"Whenever someone says, 'I'm not book-smart, I'm street-smart', all I hear is 'I'm not real-smart, I'm fake-smart'"
Forget where it came from but I love that person so much!!

on a related (and contradictory) note, I feel there is some credibility to the idea of a 'bad test-taker', seeing as I am the exact opposite...I literally finished every section of the ACT about thirty minutes earlier than anyone else. Same thing with regular tests, I would hand it back in about a minute after it was given out and score in the top 3. And my sister is a textbook bad test-taker; she graduated with a B average but got...a very bad score on her ACT. :shrug:
 

Medwell

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I feel like everybody knows these studies already, but they showed that if you make a black person fill out his race prior to taking a standardised exam (no other signals, literally just a "what is your race" box on the test), he'll do significantly worse than a black person who didn't. Same with women, but only on math tests. A white person who fills out his race doesn't show any difference, but he does if you casually mention that Asian people tend to do really well on math beforehand. Asian people get a + factor from filling out race. They tested a lot of subtleties like this, which was brilliant, because it elegantly teases out the effect of race stereotyping on standardised testing abilities versus actual ability. Now I don't like to extrapolate too much but I think in this case you can make a point about the stereotypes we get bombarded with every day + perception people have about themselves on an individual basis.
Just goes to show that we need to get rid of all programs that treat people differently based on race, right? The sooner we start treating everyone equally, the sooner we will see equality.
 

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Just goes to show that we need to get rid of all programs that treat people differently based on race, right? The sooner we start treating everyone equally, the sooner we will see equality.
Not to start an URM war, but I'm pretty sure the reason schools accept lower scoring URM's is SO the level of equality can become higher. At least from an aesthetic viewpoint
 

ponyo

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The only thing I can think of while reading this thread is an awesome quote I once read:
"Whenever someone says, 'I'm not book-smart, I'm street-smart', all I hear is 'I'm not real-smart, I'm fake-smart'"
Forget where it came from but I love that person so much!!
I used to think this was true until I realised the hard way that I was street-r*****ed. Street research is a heck of a lot harder than internet/bench research...
 

StudyShy

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998 is driving me nuts. Just sayn'. ;)
 
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Its always interesting to hear people with high gpas claim that the MCAT is an unfair test/not a assessment of anyones intelligence

I think that its very fair, and aside from some BullS questions, its a good measure of the minimal kind of thinking expected in med school probs
 

Hotshy

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What about someone that averages a 31 and gets a 31? ;)
That's all good :) I don't think a 31 is a bad score at all. It's just when you have huge drop from 36, it's a sign you couldn't handle the stress on test day aka bad test taker.

If you averaged 31 and got a 31, good job you were consistent and didn't choke on test day :)
 

Hotshy

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Also there is truly test taking anxiety (I think). I work with students at my university that are having academic trouble, and literally they just choke so hard on test day. They explain the material to me and I can tell they understand it. They just get incredibly stressed as soon as they get one hard question, that the rest of the test is a nightmare.
 

Slack3r

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The only thing I can think of while reading this thread is an awesome quote I once read:
"Whenever someone says, 'I'm not book-smart, I'm street-smart', all I hear is 'I'm not real-smart, I'm fake-smart'"
Forget where it came from but I love that person so much!!

on a related (and contradictory) note, I feel there is some credibility to the idea of a 'bad test-taker', seeing as I am the exact opposite...I literally finished every section of the ACT about thirty minutes earlier than anyone else. Same thing with regular tests, I would hand it back in about a minute after it was given out and score in the top 3. And my sister is a textbook bad test-taker; she graduated with a B average but got...a very bad score on her ACT. :shrug:
 
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Tosh does a pretty funny bit on people who claim to bad test takers. Im probably going to butcher it, but it goes a little something like this;

"I hate when people claim theyre bad test takers...'OH im great with the material, but im really bad at test taking.' You mean you understand the material fine but as soon as they attempt to test you on what you know you fail?


Yaaaaaaaaaaaa. Im a phenominal painter, but as soon as i touch pad to brush I have a parkinsons-like episode."

Here

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iopN0goFY8Y][/YOUTUBE]
 

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Yeah, it's hilarious when people try to use that excuse. I always wonder, if you're such a "bad test taker", how did you get that >3.8 GPA? Did your classes not have any tests in them? :laugh:

The difference is: all tests in school can be aced if you study enough for them, because there's always a finite amount of material that each test can cover. On the other hand, doing well on standardized tests involves more problem solving and assimilating/processing information quickly, which is not a skill that you can do well at by studying a lot - you actually have to be intelligent. So while these self-proclaimed "bad test takers" can do well on tests in school by studying constantly, their usual tactic doesn't work on standardized tests since they don't know exactly what to expect.
This is the most ******ed reasoning I have ever heard! :laugh: There are plenty of people who study constantly and can rarely get a higher grade than a B. And you are assuming that everyone who have high gpa/low MCAT must have studied constantly to get that high gpa, is ridiculous :eek: I had a few friends from school who studied ten times more than me and still got lower grades than me. However, some of them scored 33+ on the MCAT and are now applying to DO schools due to low gpa. Does that mean that they are dumb? Absolutely not! Does it mean that people who scored below average on the MCAT, but have 4.0 are dumb? Of course not! There are too many different factors that play into both MCAT and gpa, to actually be able to accurately say who is dumb and who is not. The only thing you can probably say with some certainty is that those who score low on the MCAT (below 25) AND have low gpa are dumb. And even in such cases there are exceptions. Plenty of people from both categories get into medical school, do well, and become fine physicians.
 

NickNaylor

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This is the most ******ed reasoning I have ever heard! :laugh: There are plenty of people who study constantly and can rarely get a higher grade than a B. And you are assuming that everyone who have high gpa/low MCAT must have studied constantly to get that high gpa, is ridiculous :eek: I had a few friends from school who studied ten times more than me and still got lower grades than me. However, some of them scored 33+ on the MCAT and are now applying to DO schools due to low gpa. Does that mean that they are dumb? Absolutely not! Does it mean that people who scored below average on the MCAT, but have 4.0 are dumb? Of course not! There are too many different factors that play into both MCAT and gpa, to actually be able to accurately say who is dumb and who is not. The only thing you can probably say with some certainty is that those who score low on the MCAT (below 25) AND have low gpa are dumb. And even in such cases there are exceptions. Plenty of people from both categories get into medical school, do well, and become fine physicians.
It's just a troll thread, move along.
 
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