I find a couple of shared quizzes in my Facebook feed every day. Most of them are goofy, but when it comes to fact-based quizzes, it seems that nobody ever shares the ones they bomb. Is that because of human nature: image crafting, socially-acceptable bragging, and taking quizzes on which you expect to excel anyway? Or is it because the tests are completely fake?
This morning, a quiz asking “Could you pass the German citizenship test?” was shared in a Facebook group for German language learners. The initial poster was surprised she scored 100%. Others quickly added their comments, shocked but self-congratulatory that they only missed one or two questions. When one fellow said that he was sure some of his answers were wrong, yet he still scored 90%, my spidey sense began to tingle. So, I took the test a few times. It consists of 20 multiple choice questions, each with three answers. The questions remain the same and the answers don’t move if you repeat the test. My results?
- I chose the 1st answer to every question: my score was 100%
- I chose the 2nd answer to every question: 90% (2 answers wrong)
- I chose the 3rd answer to every question: 95% (1 answer wrong)
- I chose answers in the pattern of A, B, C, A, B, C, etc.: 95%
- I tried to choose a wrong answer on every question: 100%! Even though I chose the Stars and Stripes as the EU flag.
Hmmmmmmm. Logically, my first re-test disproves the accuracy of the quiz — if all of the A answers were correct, 18 B answers cannot also be correct. I repeated the test just to see if I could get a score below 90%. Nope.
So, I took another quiz on the same site. This one made the rounds in my Facebook feed earlier in the week: “How good is your school knowledge?” Again I tried to answer every question incorrectly. Abraham Lincoln was the first US president. Poland doesn’t share a border with Germany. A tiger is not a mammal. My results? 15/15! “You have accomplished the incredible feat to answer each question correctly. You are either damn clever or you have paid attention really well in school! You have answered all questions correctly and it is remarkable how much school knowledge you have retained in your head. We congratulate you as your school knowledge is simply unsurpassable.”
I began to comb my Facebook feed to see what other fact-based quizzes people were sharing, but I only see entertainment-style quizzes now. Other than knowledge tests like the ones above, there seem to be a few types:
- Conversation starters: “What natural disaster is your temper like?” or “Can we guess your age?” These seem to lead to chatty conversation threads when shared, but let’s not call them scientific.
- Modern horoscopes: “What color is your aura?” or “What is your spirit animal?” It seems that all the possible results are flattering and vague enough to apply to anyone, just like old school newspaper horoscopes.
- Pop culture quizzes: “What would be your best subject at Hogwarts?” or “Are you as well-read as Stephen King?” Some of these are pure amusement, others — like the Stephen King quiz — are based in a factual list. More likely to share if you’re into Harry Potter or Stephen King, I would guess.
- Just for giggles: “What is your stripper name?” “How would John Travolta mispronounce your name?” That sort of thing.
Both of the fact-based quizzes I linked above were created by a German social media marketing firm based in Cologne. I bet their share rates are a lot better than quizzes with legitimate results. It’s not stated that the results are for entertainment only and not calculated, which I find deceptive, but does anyone really think that a 15 question multiple-choice quiz accurately reflects how much they remember from school?.
I guess the bottom line is: Don’t feel inferior if your social media contacts seem to have turned into the (IBM) Watson of online quizzes overnight, and you might not want to brag about your own results until you’ve checked the test.