Before they jump into a field of special concentration for which they are possibly not well fitted, graduate students are being subjected to a rigorous six-hour examination covering everything from verbal aptitude to physics and chemistry.
Sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation which has research departments not only at Yale and Harvard but at Princeton and Columbia Universities as well, the record examination is "primarily for the purpose of obtaining an estimate of the attainments in the more important fields of knowledge."
The attempt to turn the student's acquired learning and mental aptitude into more constructive channels in the object of the Foundation's work here through the office of Dean Chase of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Almost 90 per cent of the total enrollment of the School was willing to undergo the six-hour ordeal, Dean Chase said, when the first test of its kind was given last year.
The Carnegie group has claimed that "examinations for the measurement of various types of academic achievement and aptitude have been developed to such a degree that the results of such tests are known to furnish valuable information for the self-guidance of the student examined and for the better understanding of the student by the Faculty."
Much on the lines of the scholastic aptitude test most students take before entering college in their Freshman year, the quiz covers in addition non-technical subjects such as literature and fine arts, physics and chemistry, biological sciences, social studies, verbal aptitude and mathematics.
The results of the examination are revealed to a student in the form of a graph on which his curve is plotted against that of the general average. The results in previous years have shown that a graduate's curve would reach its highest point on that part of the test covering his special field of concentration.
A biology man is found strong in biological sciences, physics and mathematics, very low in literature and little better in fine arts and verbal aptitude. Most concentrators in literature score highest in their own field, but, surprisingly enough, do badly in verbal aptitude.
The test starts out with a 45-minute session of physics and chemistry. A sample question is: "A body actually in motion in a straight line with no external forces acting upon it will . . ." And then the student underlines one of four possible answers, in this case . . . "continue in uniform motion indefinitely."
The follow ticklers in literature and fine arts. In the trial question booklet figure such propositions as where is the Slough of Despond described? or during the reign of what monarch was the most beautiful translation of the Bible into English published?
Underlining the right answers to questions composes the major portion of the written grilling. Students in biological sciences should know of what does the placenta not permit free passage from mother to foetus. The sample test shows "blood corpuscles" underlined as the correct answer.