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Old Wed Mar 26, 2014, 11:56am
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Poorly written / trick questions on umpire tests

My occasional rant about about poorly written questions, apparently trick questions, and just plain confusing or nonsense questions on umpire tests.

As usual, the biggest offender (IMO) is the NFHS. Here are some “winning” examples from this year’s test, the “2014 NFHS SOFTBALL EXAM PART 1”, which is a T/F test. After the question is my comment & answer, but use at your own risk since I'm mostly guessing what they want the answer to be rather than answering what is technically correct.

Quote:
16. A passed ball is a pitch the catcher fails to stop or control when she should have been able to do so with ordinary effort, and allows a runner to advance.
This is a pretty minor complaint, but it does require a bit of word parsing since there can be a difference between what the rule says "a runner is able to advance" v. the question wording of “allows a runner to advance”. My answer: T
Quote:
19. An on-deck batter may leave the circle to avoid interfering with the catcher's opportunity to make an out.
I can find no rule support for either answer to this question, so the fall back is common sense and if it is not illegal, it must be legal. My answer: T (Maybe someone here can point out where I overlooked this in the rules book.)
Quote:
43. The ball is live and a runner may attempt to advance if she is hit by a fair batted ball that has been touched by a fielder.
The technically correct answer is false, since there are too many exceptions not noted in the question. What if the fielder is the pitcher? What if the runner could have obviously avoided being hit? Anyway, my answer is T. Very poor question, though.
Quote:
50. If B1 steps out of the batter's box after F1 has brought her hands together, B1 runs the risk of having a strike called for being out of position.
This question is egregiously bad. As the umpire taking the test, you are left to try to decide if the question author is trying to trick you or is just sloppy. Since this is the NFHS, either could be the explanation, given their history of intentionally (IMO) putting trick questions in the test to limit the number of perfect scores (again, JMO). In the situation described, B1 runs the risk be having a strike called for “failure to be ready” … “while out of position”. There is no penalty for merely BEING out of position. My answer, T, going with clueless/sloppy rather than devious on the part of the question writer.
Quote:
51. The batter is out when the bat hits the ball a second time while the ball is on or over fair territory.
Like question 41, technically false since being on or over fair territory does not fully describe the conditions for when the batter would be out. So, “batter IS out”? No, not always. Could be out? Yes. My answer: T (Going with the answer I assume the test key would have in it.)
Quote:
62. The DP can be substituted for by the FLEX or any legal substitute.
This is NOT the way the rule is written. This is a very sloppy question, especially considering the number of people who already have trouble with this rule. In the “Hints” for Umpires in 12-3-1, the NFHS rule book does say,
Quote:
“The FLEX may be substituted for at any time by a legal substitute or the DP may play defense for the FLEX. In either case, the FLEX has left the game.”
This statement clearly makes a distinction between the FLEX being substituted for and the DP playing defense for the FLEX (note: “In either case…”). This very well may be an intentional trick question, given the emphasis on DP/FLEX understanding by the NFHS, but, taking a risk, I still went with a sloppy/clueless rule author and answered T.
Quote:
74. Visible or exposed undergarments are considered part of a player's official school uniform.
Is there a difference between “visible” and “exposed”? Do dark undergarments completely beneath a white uniform (and hence not “exposed”, but still “visible”) fall under the rule, which states only “exposed”? Another possible intentional trick question, especially given the brouhaha a decade or so ago at an Illinois HS State Track & Field championship where the winner was DQed after the loser filed a protest because the girl's black bra was visible beneath her white jersey and did not match the rest of the team’s uniforms. But, I did answer T, again assuming sloppy question writing.
Quote:
92. Substitution rules are in effect after the umpire-in-chief accepts the lineup cards from both coaches before the game.
What? Are we now flat-out copying questions from the baseball test??? I answered T anyway, assuming they really meant plate umpire.
Quote:
94. The score of a forfeited game is 7-0 unless the offending team is behind; then the score remains as recorded.
Technically false, since the correct wording would be “unless the offending team is behind AND the game is official” (i.e. met the requirements for an official game in terms of innings played, etc.) Continuing with my assumption of sloppy question writing, though, I answered T.
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Old Wed Mar 26, 2014, 12:40pm
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Washington State has its own test now.

I'm so glad. I hated the NFHS tests for the reasons you state.

Besides, having taken a course on test writing, True/False tests are the worst for testing actual understanding of the material.

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Old Wed Mar 26, 2014, 01:27pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
This is a pretty minor complaint, but it does require a bit of word parsing since there can be a difference between what the rule says "a runner is able to advance" v. the question wording of “allows a runner to advance”. My answer: T
Well, technically, the rule itself is problematic. A runner may be "able to advance" when the pitch gets by the catcher. But if she ends up not doing so for whatever reason (she didn't see the ball get away, she slips, she is told to stay because the game is a blowout, etc.), then it shouldn't be ruled a passed ball. If the question were asked as the rule is actually written, you could justify a False answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
I can find no rule support for either answer to this question, so the fall back is common sense and if it is not illegal, it must be legal. My answer: T (Maybe someone here can point out where I overlooked this in the rules book.)
The definition of on-deck batter under 2-5-3 says she may leave the circle to "avoid interfering with a defensive player's opportunity to make an out." Since the catcher is a defensive player...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
The technically correct answer is false, since there are too many exceptions not noted in the question. What if the fielder is the pitcher? What if the runner could have obviously avoided being hit? Anyway, my answer is T. Very poor question, though.
Agree. I would answer False (and probably be wrong) only from the perspective that it doesn't mention anything about her inability to avoid the ball. As to your other question about the pitcher, a "fielder" includes the pitcher when it comes to deflected batted balls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
This question is egregiously bad. As the umpire taking the test, you are left to try to decide if the question author is trying to trick you or is just sloppy. Since this is the NFHS, either could be the explanation, given their history of intentionally (IMO) putting trick questions in the test to limit the number of perfect scores (again, JMO). In the situation described, B1 runs the risk be having a strike called for “failure to be ready” … “while out of position”. There is no penalty for merely BEING out of position. My answer, T, going with clueless/sloppy rather than devious on the part of the question writer.
I honestly don't see a problem with the question. It is almost verbatim with what is written in rule 7-3-1 PENALTY: "If a pitcher has brought the hands together, the batter leaves the box at risk of having a strike called while being out of position." My contention is the wording of the rule itself is egregiously bad. It would be better, IMHO, if it was written exactly like the test question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
Like question 41, technically false since being on or over fair territory does not fully describe the conditions for when the batter would be out. So, “batter IS out”? No, not always. Could be out? Yes. My answer: T (Going with the answer I assume the test key would have in it.)
I would have answered True as well, since that's what the rule states. The Exception listed after the rule is a case where the ball actually hits the bat (as described in the case book play). I can't think of a situation where the bat hits the fair ball (versus the fair ball hits the bat) a second time and an out wouldn't be ruled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
This is NOT the way the rule is written. This is a very sloppy question, especially considering the number of people who already have trouble with this rule. In the “Hints” for Umpires in 12-3-1, the NFHS rule book does say, This statement clearly makes a distinction between the FLEX being substituted for and the DP playing defense for the FLEX (note: “In either case…”). This very well may be an intentional trick question, given the emphasis on DP/FLEX understanding by the NFHS, but, taking a risk, I still went with a sloppy/clueless rule author and answered T.
Well, technically, when the FLEX comes in to bat for the DP, it is a substitution, by rule, since it has to be reported and it removes the DP from the lineup. So while I agree that the question is a little loose with its wording, I think the intent is clear, and I would answer True.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
Is there a difference between “visible” and “exposed”? Do dark undergarments completely beneath a white uniform (and hence not “exposed”, but still “visible”) fall under the rule, which states only “exposed”? Another possible intentional trick question, especially given the brouhaha a decade or so ago at an Illinois HS State Track & Field championship where the winner was DQed after the loser filed a protest because the girl's black bra was visible beneath her white jersey and did not match the rest of the team’s uniforms. But, I did answer T, again assuming sloppy question writing.
Well, FED 3-2-3 does list "visible undergarments" as part of the school's official uniform. And FED 3-2-7 says "exposed undergarments" are also part of the school uniform. So whether or not there is a distinction is immaterial. Both are considered part of the uniform.

BTW, the only restriction on "visible undergarments" by 3-2-3 is the size of the logo. So if a girl wears a red tee shirt with a huge black Nike Swoosh under her white jersey, she is noncompliant. But if that red tee shirt didn't have a Swoosh, and her school colors didn't have red, then I don't think she violates 3-2-7 if the shirt isn't exposed. IOW, I feel there is a distinction between "visible" and "exposed".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
What? Are we now flat-out copying questions from the baseball test??? I answered T anyway, assuming they really meant plate umpire.
FED would not be alone. I took the NCAA Softball test, and there's a question in there about the catcher leaving her position behind the plate without requesting time to go to the mound to talk to the pitcher. Geez...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
Technically false, since the correct wording would be “unless the offending team is behind AND the game is official” (i.e. met the requirements for an official game in terms of innings played, etc.) Continuing with my assumption of sloppy question writing, though, I answered T.
And I would have answered False for the exact reason you mentioned.
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Old Wed Mar 26, 2014, 02:10pm
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Most of your examples are what I usually complain about, the half question.
Or, in the multiple choice test, multiple correct answers or the correct being "none of the above" without that being provided.

Most of all, NFHS represents EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
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Old Wed Mar 26, 2014, 02:15pm
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I just noticed the numbers on Tom's questions. The NFHS test here in VA consists of only 50 questions. If memory serves, it used to be 100. Thank goodness we don't have to sit through that many questions any more.
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Old Wed Mar 26, 2014, 03:14pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
I just noticed the numbers on Tom's questions. The NFHS test here in VA consists of only 50 questions. If memory serves, it used to be 100. Thank goodness we don't have to sit through that many questions any more.
We get a random 50 so that it is more difficult for us to "cooperate"
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Old Thu Mar 27, 2014, 06:14am
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As an official, why am I even asked what the definition is (for example) for a passed ball? UGH.
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Old Thu Mar 27, 2014, 09:13am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3afan View Post
As an official, why am I even asked what the definition is (for example) for a passed ball? UGH.
My thoughts exactly. To me it doesn't matter if it's a passed ball or wild pitch. I should be looking at what results because of the passed ball or wild pitch.
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Old Thu Mar 27, 2014, 10:18am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3afan View Post
As an official, why am I even asked what the definition is (for example) for a passed ball? UGH.
Just another way they force you to read the rule book, I suppose.

Come to think of it, maybe they want the officials to know what they're talking about when explaining a rule to a coach.

Coach: "Why wasn't that interference on the first baseman, Blue? She set up on the orange bag and prevented my runner from running through!"

Plate Umpire: "Well, first off, it wouldn't be interference; it would be obstruction."

Coach: "Yeah, whatever."

Plate Umpire: "But on a wild pitch on the third strike, the first baseman and the batter-runner are allowed to use either bag."

Coach: "Well, that wasn't a wild pitch; that was a passed ball."

Plate Umpire: "Yeah, whatever."
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Old Thu Mar 27, 2014, 12:29pm
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I think it goes to knowing (about) the game.

As a player and coach, I used to track our team's stats. (This was a bit more time consuming pre-computer spreadsheet tools.)

And I'd always cringe when people made grand awards of hits, RBI, etc during youth games. Granted, if a 10-year old hit the ball and got on base, it was ruled a hit regardless of how many bobbles, boots, and overthrows occurred on the play.

But when the boys got on to the 90' foot diamond, things changed. During 1 game w/ 2 outs and the bases loaded, a favorite-son player hit a routine fly ball to right field. The fielder misplayed the ball into a 3-base error. After the game, I heard the batter being congratulated on his game winning triple w/ 3 RBI. But I was official scorer that day. No hit, no RBI.
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Old Sun Mar 30, 2014, 01:04pm
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You guys should see the test we take for Volleyball here in New York (Like softball, NYS volleyball does NOT subscribe to NFHS, but uses NCAA rules with modifications.) - holy moly is it a bunch of confusion. Its open book, but volleyball rules are such a quagmire of protocol and technicalities, it takes a group of four or five of us to go through the ting - and we still miss stuff, and it gets corrected to 100 at our meeting....

I hope he shows up for this, but poster EsqUmp is the person who writes the NYS softball test, and he does a fine job. There are very few questions that you need to really try and decipher, and they are - shockingly - all related to things you might actually encounter in a game. If you know your stuff, even with being careful, it takes you about 25-30 minutes to take a 100 question test.

As a side note, EsqUmp also does the NYS Manual. Since we use modified ASA rules, our state group thought it would be a good idea to actually publish a manual of our own, for local groups to print and distribute if they want. Our group makes it up as a spiral notebook, and it is quite handy to have. It has really nice graphics which do a 1000% better job of showing everything than does the old fashioned version we see in the ASA manual.
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Old Sun Mar 30, 2014, 01:24pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASA/NYSSOBLUE View Post
You guys should see the test we take for Volleyball here in New York (Like softball, NYS volleyball does NOT subscribe to NFHS, but uses NCAA rules with modifications.) - holy moly is it a bunch of confusion. Its open book, but volleyball rules are such a quagmire of protocol and technicalities, it takes a group of four or five of us to go through the ting - and we still miss stuff, and it gets corrected to 100 at our meeting....

I hope he shows up for this, but poster EsqUmp is the person who writes the NYS softball test, and he does a fine job. There are very few questions that you need to really try and decipher, and they are - shockingly - all related to things you might actually encounter in a game. If you know your stuff, even with being careful, it takes you about 25-30 minutes to take a 100 question test.

As a side note, EsqUmp also does the NYS Manual. Since we use modified ASA rules, our state group thought it would be a good idea to actually publish a manual of our own, for local groups to print and distribute if they want. Our group makes it up as a spiral notebook, and it is quite handy to have. It has really nice graphics which do a 1000% better job of showing everything than does the old fashioned version we see in the ASA manual.
I agree, it is a nice book, but it's a modified baseball mechanics manual.

And they are ok mechanics, just different. I'm at a loss as to why the whole world uses one set of mechanics, and NYS uses another!

Although , I was told as long as both umpires agree, you can do whatever you want.

Last edited by PATRICK; Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 01:30pm.
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Old Sun Mar 30, 2014, 03:26pm
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Originally Posted by PATRICK View Post
I agree, it is a nice book, but it's a modified baseball mechanics manual.

And they are ok mechanics, just different. I'm at a loss as to why the whole world uses one set of mechanics, and NYS uses another!

Although , I was told as long as both umpires agree, you can do whatever you want.
"ONE" set???

NCAA, ASA, NFHS, USSSA, PONY...

We use the mechanics we find best for high school softball. We aren't bound by what a bunch of old timers want to do. We don't force umpires from using old mechanics that have been proven are out of date (except by the old timers). We don't subscribe to clonism like so many other associations.
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Old Sun Mar 30, 2014, 06:11pm
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Originally Posted by EsqUmp View Post
"ONE" set???

NCAA, ASA, NFHS, USSSA, PONY...

We use the mechanics we find best for high school softball. We aren't bound by what a bunch of old timers want to do. We don't force umpires from using old mechanics that have been proven are out of date (except by the old timers). We don't subscribe to clonism like so many other associations.
Fair enough!

But they are for the most part VERY similar.

Modified "C"

Peeking to the OF instead of chasing

Split foul ball coverage

Last edited by PATRICK; Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:25pm.
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Old Sun Mar 30, 2014, 07:41pm
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Originally Posted by PATRICK View Post
Fair enough!

But they are for the most part VERY similar.

Modified "C"

Peeking to the OF instead of chasing

Split foul ball coverage
Yeah. We have a few other nuances but those are the bigger differences. Modified "C" is good for those games where you'll never see a play at 3rd base. We split fair/foul and catch/no catch without wasting umpires who can only take two steps "going out" anyway. It does surprise me how many umpire from other associations are shocked that we stress watching the ball and utilizing both umpire to their maximum potential.

For obvious reasons, these mechanics are similar to PONY's.
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