Tests and Measures

19 Dec

A long, long time ago, back when I was a fresh faced eager undergrad, I took a class called Tests and Measurements to satisfy the lab requirement of my psychology major. We discussed the general difficulties that accompany any psychological assessment, debating the best ways to evaluate intelligence, mood, personality, and various disorders.

We discussed the history of intelligence tests – the difficulty of racial, cultural, and language barriers. We discussed the difficulties of administering intelligence tests to children. And, as an example, the teacher brought in the WISC and asked for a volunteer. You can guess who jumped all over that shit.

Part of the test involves memory. You are given a series if numbers and then told to repeat them – backwards. Examiner says 7, 3. You then say 3, 7. And so on, with longer and longer strings of numbers. I fucking rocked it. My classmates and teacher were impressed as I got into the 7 and 8 digit strings with no mistakes. I was mighty pleased with myself.

The next part of the test was various colored shapes you had to manipulate to match the given picture. I Could. Not. Do. It. Seriously. A monkey could have gotten a better score. The quiet admiration turned to guffaws, even chortles. I hung my head in shame.

So it was with great trepidation that I acceded to my therapist’s request that I take a variety of psych tests. I was worried I would turn out to be crazy. Or, even worse, not as smart as I like to think I am.

The testing was yesterday and it began with the WAIS. “Oh no,” I thought. “I hope it’s easier this time.”

That’s right, I actually hoped the adult version would be easier than the children’s. This probably should have been the beginning and end of the intelligence test then and there.

The examiner started out by handing me a box of cubes that had a solid red face, a solid white face, and faces that were half and half. “Now I’m going to show you a picture and I want you to arrange the blocks to match….”

I almost wished I was a monkey because then I could a) get a better score and b) fling the blocks around the room.

At least I still rocked the numbers.

The tests continued. I smirked at some, remembering the discussions of their ineffectiveness all those years ago. I actually got to have a real Rorschach test and a TAT.

It did not go well.

I did not realize the poor examiner would be required to keep up with everything I said. I went into a detailed discussion of how one slide looked like a bat. The transcript will look like this :

the feet look like bat feet because have you ever seen the animated New Adventures of Batman from the mid to late nineties because in the first episode the villain is Man-Bat who is kind of lame but he’s half man half bat and when he flies his feet look like that and he was a lame villain but it was a good show Mark Hamill did the voice of the joker oh my god you are literally writing all of this down?

The examiner was even less pleased when he showed me a slide, asked what I saw, and I said “an inkblot.” I think he was ready to throw some shit (figuratively, not literally) at that point.

Next was the Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT. You are shown ambiguous pictures and you are supposed to tell a story: what just happened, what’s happening now, what will happen next, and how does everyone feel.

I debated – do I let my creative side run wild or do I try to describe the picture as accurately as possible? I opted for the latter in the hopes of seeming normal. Some were hard and I had to get creative, so both the examiner and I were surprised when I was shown one and, without even thinking, had the answer right away.


“Oh,” I said. “He just killed that prostitute.”

I can’t wait to get my results.

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