An example of a university exam
for future psychology students in Peru
In March of 2005 I had a chance to visit a national university in Lima, Peru. Here is a pic of the friends I went there with. This was on registration day. The students in the back of the pic are standing in line to pay for their classes.
After we left the university we walked past someone selling little magazines. I asked what this was about. My friends told me it was a copy of that year's entrance exam. Here are the pics of them layed out on the ground and me looking at one.
There are different exams depending on what you plan to study. I asked if I could see the one for psychology students. First, they showed me the exam which included sociology, literature and others. But it did not list psychology. Then one of my friends said, "No wait, psychology is in another group." So we found the exam which included future psychology students.
Here is a copy of the cover. To me it looks more like something you would get at a football game, but anyhow here it is.
On closer inspection we see what else is included besides psychology. Now you don't have to speak Spanish to get the idea. It is all medical stuff. And then there is also Veterinary Medicine, right above Psychology. It is almost like Psychology was stuck on their as an after thought.
Although this happens to be in Peru, this helps us see how the universities look at psychology, emotions and feelings. They think it is all about medicine and "disorders", "illnesses" and "treatement". The whole, "Just take these pills and you will feel better" mentality that is not helping anything, except for putting money in the pockets of psychiatrists and drug companies.
The cover itself was frightening enough for me, but then I looked inside. The test was full of math and science questions. So to later work with children's feelings and suicidal teenagers you have to first prove you are good in math and science.
Here are some pages.
There were also five questions about psychology. Purely theoretical. The first one is asking something about "cognitive development". The next one is something about the characteristics of adolescence such as a "marked interest in personal appearances". The next one tells you to "identify the characteristics of creative thought". The next one is asking something about "what process typifies conscience and the control of our cognitive processes?" (yes, they actually say process twice in the question.) The answer, by the way, is "metacognition"
The next one (not shown) says something like "Maria wants to study Human Medicine and although she has high potential and interest in the career, she doesn't adequately plan her studies or organize well her schedule of priorities to study, so this reveals basic problems with a) habits b) hobbies c) intelligence d) personality e) motivation
Notice that even in the question, social values are being implied and Mary is being judged because she "doesn't adequately plan her studies" and she doesn't "organize well." And it is also being implied that Mary has "basic problems". But maybe Mary finds her classes boring and not living up to her expectations about what the career would be like. Or maybe she studies what she finds interesting instead of what she has the lowest grade in. Or maybe she would rather spend time with her friends, or helping children or being with the person she loves. My point is that all through a young person's academic life, these kinds of messages are being programmed into their minds. Messages like "grades are important", "suceess is important", "money is important", "degrees and titles are important", "studying is important", "being organized is important." Young people, even those studying to be psychologists, are not getting the message that "feelings are important, "helping people is important", "love is important", "happiness is important."
By the way, there are also 3 questions about world history, 2 about "Civic Education", such as what the constitution of Peru says and what the purpose of an army is. And there are two questions on the history of Peru. One is about where the oldest bones in Peru have been found the other is about the form of government of one of the former societies. 3 questions on economics. 16 on biology
And three on literature. These include one which asks about which vices were represented in the book The Divine Comedy. Another which asks you to put four lines of a poem in the right order. And one which asks you to order the dates of four South American books.
I'd like you to write me and tell me how you feel about this test and if you think it will do a good job of pre-selecting the people who will make good psychologists.