2020

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Not so easy

While it was a decent article, “Easy A” by William Levinson (July 2012) was too high-level without many specifics, while at the same time being too narrow, focusing on statistical problems such as error-proofing averages and standard deviations, and drawing the test distribution.

For example, for tip No. 4, “Ensure the answer sheet corresponds to the answers,” Levinson said to cross-check the number of the problem with your answer if you skip a question.

While certainly important, another tip would be to lightly circle the number of the skipped question on the answer sheet. This helps in two ways:

  1. You reduce the chance of marking your next answer in the wrong line on the scoring sheet—if you circle No. 14, when you answer No. 15, it is unlikely you will put that answer on the wrong line.
  2. It quickly shows you how many questions you have skipped.

Most of us know that in a four-hour, 150-question exam, you need to answer about 40 questions an hour, allowing for some time at the end to review the exam, or a few minutes during the exam to stretch your legs or use the restroom.

If, after the first hour, you’re on question No. 42, you may think you’re ahead of the pace. But if you’ve skipped six questions, you’re actually slightly behind the pace. Lightly circling the skipped numbers will show you at a glance that, while you might be on question No. 42, you’ve only answered 36 questions.

I have used this technique—plus a few others I have learned or read about along the way—to help me pass three ASQ certifications in the last 12 months—Six Sigma Green Belt, manager of quality/organizational excellence and quality auditor.

Eric Gemunder
Huntington Station, NY

Reordering innovation

I like the model of innovation in “Up and Away” (June 2012). But I have a slight problem with the sequence of steps. If you’re truly charting a path into unknown territory, it will be necessary to get the product or service to the market prior to refinement just to see if the idea is viable.

Refining first can be what a presenter at the World Conference on Quality and Improvement called “Type III Waste,” an elegant solution to the wrong problem. The model in the article is great if the future and the market’s needs are well known. If not, get something out there and learn from it.

Stephen Stanley
Aurora, CO

Mean and modes

In the Expert Answers section of the June 2012 issue, Joseph Conklin states, “If we say the average household has 2.5 persons living in it, that’s a short way of saying households most commonly have two or three people living in them.”

This statement is not necessarily true. The average household could have 2.5 persons living in it when households most commonly have one or four people living in them. The average—or mean—does not always relate to the modes.

Mike Burtner
Penn Laird, VA


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