1964 Louisiana Literacy Test Solutions

I will painstakingly explain these to anyone dumb enough to need to ask. Please don’t, it took ages converting the answers to digital and I’m bored with this now, much longer than the actual test if handwritten. The best advice I can give you is to read the question literally, over and over, if you don’t get it.
Question source: From this PDF or this news source.

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11 responses to “1964 Louisiana Literacy Test Solutions

  1. The only issue I think anyone could legitimately raise with this test is that dyscalculia or poor comprehension of basic geometry shouldn’t prove illiteracy. Any other issues (dyslexia, not understanding the meaning of certain words, misunderstanding grammar) all prove some degree of illiteracy.

      • Ah, true. Then all that would count would be a failure to grasp basic geometry. Indicative of low IQ and/or very poor education, but wouldn’t interfere with a typing or number-crunching job.

    • There are more serious issues than that (apart from how it was administered):

      – A lot of the questions are ambiguous.
      For example: Question 10: The first word of what? You could answer “a” (the first word of most English dictionaries).

      – A lot of questions are meaningless or ambiguous due to poor punctuation or grammar.
      For example, question 20 doesn’t specify what word or phrase (etc.) to spell. If the candidate spelled “backwards”, then they weren’t reading the question literally (as the poster implies that one should), or grammatically correctly (and maybe failed to understand the significance of punctuation, making it ironic if their answer was deemed to be correct. (That is, reading it correctly, prevents one from getting it the “correct” answer.) ).
      Some of these questions have what appear to be typographical errors (e.g. missing the word “have” in question 30), which, at best, would have the effect of slowing down the candidate, who has to consider all possible ways to correct the question before answering, keeping in mind that it may be a confusingly-worded trick question.

      – Very few people could answer it in 10 minutes.

      – Question 11, apart from being ambiguous, may be confusing the concept of a number with that of a digit.

      – The answer to question 23 depends on the orientation of the page, which, depending on how it is marked, might not be same when marking.

      These types of errors are especially bad in a test with trick questions that are intended to be read very literally.

      I suppose it’s possible, but unlikely, that a bizarre dialect of English, in which these questions would be grammatical, was spoken in Louisiana at the time.
      Since this is not an original copy of the test, it’s possible that some of these errors were introduced in transcription.

      • All those points of “confusion” are either pedantic, or would require an astonishingly low level of intellect to make. Each question makes perfect sense, regardless of whether the grammar meets current standards or not. And, besides that, literacy is more than spelling. Reading comprehension and inference are as big a part of literacy as spelling is. If you cannot guess that “backwards” is already spelt forwards, that the answer would not be given in the question, and thus, “forwards” must be spelt backwards, then you have some degree of illiteracy.

      • I agree, I have a master’s degree and would struggling with knowing I’d got many of the questions right, even if my guesses might have been correct. My hesitance might mean I took longer than the 20 seconds allowed for each question, never mind the convoluted series of instructions in some which would take me longer than that to decode.

    • >”The only issue I think anyone could legitimately raise with this test is that dyscalculia or poor comprehension of basic geometry shouldn’t prove illiteracy.”

      …I’d like to raise the issue of attempting to systematically prevent a race of people from voting with ambiguous questions that have highly subjective answers.

  2. I’m aware that this has been up for a while – but you do need to bear in mind that the entire test is a trick. For example, had you not met certain conditions you would have failed questions 8 and 9 (the right answer for you being T and BT respectively).

  3. You’re wrong on 6. It says to only draw ONE circle inside the other. You drew TWO inside another.

    23 is also wrong. It didn’t say to draw a broken line from the top-left to the bottom-right. You’re supposed to draw a horizontal broken line from the middle of the left border to the middle of the right border of the SQUARE (hence “once more”). You didn’t “divide it once more”; you just drew a dotted line from the middle of one triangle to the middle of another, which is obviously the wrong interpretation.

    Guess you’re too illiterate to vote.

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