Why you should let a native speaker check your English exam

From a final exam in Reading for advanced                    English as a Second Language (ESL) students:


(click image to enlarge for better readability)

The problem here is that, in fact,  none of the answers is correct, although the test developer apparently thought it should be “b”.

See, while ‘qualified’ can indeed mean “trained” or “skilled” or “having the appropriate credientials for the job,” in this particular context it means nothing of the sort. Rather, it is being used more like “counted” or “reckoned as” or “having the quality of.” It has nothing to do with skill.

The question itself is a bit awkward since it’s not quite how a native speaker would say it but this passage is presumably a real quote from a magazine article so some leeway can be given. Normally one might say something like “Well, that X doesn’t really qualify as “Y” — in other words, ‘qualify’ means “meet the standard of.”

Here’s one from a Technical Writing final exam:

What are 3 ways to avoid sexiest writing?

This could have been a mere typo. More likely, the test author didn’t understand that “sexiest” and “sexist” mean very very different things.

In the question above, “sexiest'” isn’t a grammatical use but one could understand a sentence about “sexy writing” and why it should be avoided.

“Sexist” writing on the other hand would be something on the order of “Let’s make sure we send the right man for this job,”  or the use of “Miss” or “Mrs.” instead of “Ms” or even “He got busted by a male grammar cop.”

In spelling, sometimes the e‘s not the i‘s have it.


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