Atrocities of learning confuse and infuriate Chartered Accountants
Something that helped me immensely when I was preparing for the CKE, and should be helpful to anyone taking a multiple choice test designed by halfwits, was to realize that the test was probably designed by someone who wasn't thinking things through very much. Reading too much into a question is a recipie for anguish and anger. If you make it all the way through this rant you'll pick up a tip that will prove invaluable on your next multiple choice test.
Yes, you may be right when presented with all the possible exceptions to a scenario, but in an ordinary multiple choice question, go with the answer they're "looking for" rather than the answer that shows off how smart you are.
It's sad but true: learning more facts and gaining more knowledge than expected of you can actually end up harming you, when you're presented what the test writer would consider to be a "simple" question.
Right lane, left lane : right answer, left answer.
Step away from the world of accounting and consider a true story from the world of science. A basic question can be designed to test your knowledge of photosynthesis, making you say, "yes, of course it's impossible to generate energy in an ecosystem with light" by answering "True" to a question that says, "can you generate energy in an ecosystem in the absence of sunlight."
Of course, your true or false premise is absolutely destroyed if the student had a teacher in earlier grades who explained the concept of chemosynthesis. Perhaps this particular scenario would be less likely in the present day, since Bill Nye talked up this concept in 2004 according to our dear geek friends updating Wikipedia. But when I was in high school my teacher had no idea, and I had a wonderful fight proving myself right.
The problem is that you'll rarely be in a position to prove how right you are, particularly on professional exams like the CKE, or online courses provided by schools and employers.
The inspriation for today's rant came from a question I saw on an online quiz about driving, asking how badly your fueld efficiency can be degraded if your car's engine is poorly maintained. Your options are something like 5%, 15%, 50% and 75%.
Right off the bat, I felt gobsmacked by the idiocy behind that question.
If you really wanted to ruin an engine, I'm sure the right answer would be infinity, or some other equally grotesque number. Break the car so badly through neglect that it hardly moves but still burns gas and your answer is apparent: the sky's the limit, in non-mathematical terms.
And yet some pompous driving school blowhard expects students to memorize a completely inane "fact". Fortunately there's an antidote for The Stupid: our good friend Google. It'll take you to websites like that of the CAA, which will proudly proclaim the 50% statistic.
Where in the name of all that is holy did they come up with that number? I'd love to see a source for that research but the CAA didn't bother with an answer. No matter, the driving school people are happy to run with it. Heaven forbid you be asked more questions about the proper way to deal with road hazards. No, let's deal with pseudo-science instead. Much more fun.
Once you've had a chance to roll your eyes at what passes for pedagogy, remember that you'll encounter questions like this again and again. You'll be asked what sort of capitalization or expense treatment is allowed under GAAP or IFRS. There may be some freakish extreme scenario that will render all the proposed answers invalid. Ignore that. Go for the most likely answer based on the most likely scenario, and you'll hopefully do just fine on the test. Good luck.
And if you have the luxury of providing a written answer instead of a forlorn hope scratched onto a Scantron sheet, then write out your assumptions. Be happy, while keeping to your time limit, that you can share your knowledge of the extreme scenario which invalidates all answers, as you know the markers will be obligated to consider that comment. If there's ever a fight over the right answer, or whether you're one mark away from passing or failing, the additional written comments will do wonders. Of course, a pure online course is unlikely to give you that luxury, but that hopefully won't stop you from taking a screenshot, dumping it in your favorite word processor, and annotating it with your comments. You can subsequently harp on the course designers to your heart's content with the fact that they designed a test poorly and should fix their atrocity of learning before it's inflicted on more innocent students.