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Speed challenges: A Discussion on Methodology.

A little background. I haven't been around for all years this has been around so don't know if it's always been this case. But the last two years, have basically been the same. The Knockout round is a computer that has three questions and basically anyone is allowed to take the test as many times as possible. This allows for a person to know exactly what the question will be and be prepared to place the exact diagram objects down to complete it. Thus allowing people to finish in under 30 seconds per question. While, the finals round, people don't know the question ahead of time. Thus they need to think about it and try many different thought patterns to solve it. Thus explains why this round it seemed to take 3-5 minutes on average per question. It also suggests that it's very different knowledge and thinking patterns between the two.

So, I guess it gets to my question. why so different? Wouldn't it make more sense to have similar test structure between the knockouts and the finals? That way, people are playing on the same fair ground for knockouts and finals.

We could make it so the finalists know the questions ahead of time. If we did that, though the contest in front of the audience will be less entertaining. It also may be unbalanced as some are busy in their booth or presenting or otherwise unable to read the questions and formulate a result. Personally, I don't think this should be the approach.

The other method is to eliminate the possibility of a person knowing the questions ahead of time when they perform the knockouts questions. This may be a little more difficult, but can be possible.

  1. For example, you could prevent a name or phone number from being entered twice, thus preventing a person from taking the test more then once. The drawback on this is that some people won't attempt until they have seen all the questions and know how to answer then.
  2. You could also take an average or max of each person's attempts. Currently, we did the min (as that's what's listed on the result screen). This allows the first attempts to be averaged into the overall speed and thus reduce the benefit of retaking the test over again. It still has the same drawback as the previous method.
  3. You could also have more then 3 questions. Perhaps 10 or so that the test randomly selects three of them. By having more questions, it makes it harder for a person to memorize solutions and thus have to think about the problem. Thus, partly neutralizes the drawback of previous solutions. The drawback here is that there may be some questions that are perceived easier to do and thus possible to get a faster time.
  4. Perhaps the best approach would be combination of the last two. Take the overall time average of all their attempts and randomly select 3 questions from a batch. This way as people take the test multiple times, the harder questions will average out with the easier ones and produce a decent average score. It reduces the drawback of the possibly easier/harder questions and the drawback of a person attempting to memorize all the answers.

What are your thoughts?


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