Last month I took the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), which not only tests analogical thinking but also general knowledge and cultural literacy in such areas as history, geography, science and literature. Here are some sample questions from the test prep book that I prepared with:
SHAWM : OBOE :: REBEC : (a. trumpet, b. clarinet, c. piano, d. violin)
THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL : THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES :: (a. Sheridan, b. Beaumont, c. Wilde, d. Behan) : MOLIERE
GUNNAR MYRDAL : (a. physics, b. economics, c. medicine, d. history) :: LINUS PAULING : CHEMISTRY
WRIGHT : FALLINGWATER :: SAARINEN : (a. Museum of Modern Art, b. Gateway Arch, c. Washington Monument, d. Golden Gate Bridge)
(a. Kilimanjaro, b. Mount Everest, c. K2, d. Makalu) : KORAKARAM :: MONT BLANC : ALPS
CALVIN CYCLE : GLUCOSE :: CELLULAR RESPIRATION : (a. sucrose, b. H2O, c. carbon, d. ATP)
(a. Balboa, b. Velasquez, c. Chevrolet, d. Cabrillo) : CALIFORNIA :: CADILLAC : MICHIGAN
FREUD : LAING :: VEBLEN : (a. Barthes, b. Keynes, c. Skinner, d. Lorenz)
The questions make me wonder - is all this expected to be general knowledge? Does the average citizen really need this info to get through daily life? Probably not. And in this age of Google and Wikipedia, how much do we actually need to hold in our heads? It's probably more important to know how to search out info than to have it in instant recall. Except when playing Trivial Pursuit, of course.
The prep book had ten practice tests, and it seemed like the more I studied, the worse my score got. But I think it was all helpful, because by comparison the actual test didn't seem as tough. It didn't have as many obscure cultural/historical references as the practice tests did. And I just got my test results: a scaled score of 486, which is in the 99th percentile. Yahoo!