Comments on the Sigma Test VI
I’ve looked over the Sigma Test and discussed it with a few
other members. Here is our consensus.
I’ll discuss each of the first few questions in detail.
question is a standard trick question.
It is usually stated in terms of the distance a rubber band around
the equator will be stretched if it is lifted one foot. Coincidentally, Marilyn vos Savant asked a version of it in her column in the
March 7 issue of Parade Magazine.
Anyone with an interest in puzzles will know the trick.
could be a nice puzzle, but it is overly complex. The conditions on the order in which the
man and woman can stand are inserted into the puzzle without
motivation. The item should be
reworked to include the same essential idea without the unnatural
is a straight combinatorics problem that can be looked up in several books
and probably on the Web.
is a thinly reworded version of the standard puzzle about the priest who
informs his flock about the existence of at least one adulterer. Anyone with an interest in puzzles will
know the solution.
of the problem statement is taken up with estimating the number of atoms
in the universe to be 6x10^78, which is not relevant. All that is being asked is whether the
number of possible positions of a chess board in 29 ply is less than or
greater than this number. Clearly there are 64 possible positions on the
board and one off the board and 32 pieces.
Ignoring all complexities, it is obvious that the number of possible
positions is less than 65^32 , which is about 10^58. This is a trivial problem.
The remaining problems on the test, which are only graded if
the testee does well on the first five problems, rely on precise definitions
for terms that are inherently vague or at least controversial. For example, problem 8 is “Create a
functional model of a fictional universe.”
The answer is scored based upon how “coherent” it is. This is not a well-defined concept and in
fact is currently very controversial.
It is the height of presumption to claim to be able to objectively score
a test item on this basis.
A quick consensus of five members is that this test is
unsuitable as an admissions vehicle.