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I recently earned the opportunity to create a test for an organization to screen job candidates. This opportunity has opened my eyes to a new potential method of test preparation. I’ve yet to put it through the ringer of practice and testing but I thought I’d give my readers the chance to check it out themselves before it goes through the wringer. I’m hoping it helps shed light to one of the most important points I’m trying to make with this blog.

People like to think the great explorations of our world have almost all been undertaken already (until we have reasonably priced space travel.) A hundred years ago there were still unexplored parts of the world (unexplored by most of civilization.) Five hundred years ago a huge chunk of the earth was hardly explored by the mainstream. Of course, keeping in mind that most of the world was explored but the stories weren’t spread to the majority the world. The point is, we’ve all pretty much discovered each other.

This world exploration started thousands of years ago. People used to walk from place to place. It would take too many resources for the average person to explore. Then, of course, they’d hit an ocean and never be able to see what was beyond it. Today that may be where we are in terms of space exploration. We’ve hit a bit of a wall. That being said, exploration is still alive and well…

There is a great exploration that we all have access to. This great exploration is looking at the world through an objective (scientific) lens. For thousands of years humans of guessed and hoped their way through generations. Since the solidification of the scientific method the exploration has become obtainable for all people. The scientific method is the spaceship of our perceptions of reality.

Is the study strategy I’m about to go over useful? That’s a question that, for thousands of years in the past, would have been answered with speculation and dumb luck. Even some of the most respected fields today (like medicine) were largely speculative failures for thousands of years before the scientific method was common practice. They would have said, yes it will work, or not it won’t work largely based on unobjective standards. Today we have our spaceship to take us into the truly unexplored territory. Will it work? Only testing can shed any light on that question.

Quite frankly, if I were to speculate, I’d think this were one of my most powerful understanding strategies I’ve worked with. So… what is this strategy of learning that I’m so curious about?

Test Creation

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Throughout this blog, I’ve gone over the value of testing based study strategies. They are typically the most powerful ways to study because they emphasize recall instead of the average read and hope it sticks strategies. When you ask yourself questions about the information you’re trying to remember, even if those questions are as simple as “what am I trying to remember,” you find out whether or not the information is actually where it needs to be for you to remember it. Otherwise, you never get to find out what information has stuck and what information needs to be studied longer.

When I was attempting to design a test to screen applicants for that job position, I wasn’t necessarily looking for the applicant with the best ability to remember information. The position was a technical position that required a huge expanse of material that asking questions wouldn’t even scratch the surface of. If the applicant could answer 100s of questions about the job, it wouldn’t guarantee they’re cable of doing the job. Creativity is a huge factor. The company was looking for someone that wasn’t only technical competent but creative enough to solve problems.

In the process of designing that test I learned more about the subject than I had learned in years of experience. I had to think about the subject from a number of unusual angles because I was looking to find the things that floated right below the surface of the obvious.

I imagine this wouldn’t have been the case if I’d been working on a straight up multiple choice test. The process of creating a test requiring creativity to answer is intensive for even a person skilled in the subject because it requires what I’m tempted to call a derivative of creativity. (Creativity of creativity perhaps? Yes. It’s probably best defined as just a deeper level of creativity but what’s the fun in that.)

Minding Your Theories

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I have this theory that creating a test is a great way to learn more about a difficult subject.

That doesn’t really matter though. Everyone has ideas. This idea is useless as is because I have only my own experience as evidence. (Well… useless for everyone except for me.) Perhaps it was just a coincidence in that case. Maybe it would just hinder my ability to learn a subject. Maybe it’s too difficult to actually implement consistently. My point is, this theory is pointless until it gets some form of objective (or semi-objective) testing.

Now that I have my theory, I have to find a way to test whether or not it aligns with reality. (Notice anything funny about that? I need to creatively create a test to check whether creative test creation is effective for understanding stuff better. Try understanding that one.) Right now my theory is nothing but an idea. It takes testing to make it useful for reality.

This is the unexplored territory of our world. It’s our ideas. The great explorers of our world today are seeking treasures within the limits of human ingenuity. Day by day people are pushing the boundaries of what people are capable of doing and being. This is the driving force of the growth of our world. It’s innovation. While power was defined by the expansion of territory in the past, today it’s defined by the expansion of technology and ideas. This is the frontier that we all have access to.

Most people avoid the frontier. It’s dangerous. Most people should avoid it. After a while of explorers going to the frontiers, eventually people will follow. The frontier will eventually become the mundane. The frontier may be scary but, to me, it’s where people belong. The only limits to humanity are the self-imposed one. Pushing those frontiers farther is what scientists (and tinkerers) do.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night while still scoring high? That’s what this blog is about. Be sure to read the ebooks in the sidebar for a crash course. Or if you prefer, just check out the archives and follow along to learn more.

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