Journalistic Method Part 3: Test Your Powers of Observation

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

When I was teaching journalism at the University of Illinois, I often gave my students a test designed to see just how observant they were.

Observation, as I have pointed out in previous posts, is a critical skill writers need to master IF they are to provide clear and vivid descriptions in their stories or novels.

There are 25 questions on the quiz. The average number of questions students were able to answer correctly was 8.

Many of you reading my blog are writers, so I am confident you can beat that score, right?

Let’s see how you do. Write down your answers as you go. Check your answers at the end AFTER completing all the questions.

REMEMBER — NO CHEATING!!! BE HONEST!!! That means no looking at your I-phone, your computer, your I-pad or any reference books on your desk.


Here we go!

1. On a standard traffic light, is the green on the top or bottom?

2. How many states are there in the USA? (Don’t laugh, some people don’t know)

3. In which hand is the Statue of Liberty’s torch?

4. What six colors are on the classic Campbell’s soup label?

5. What two numbers on the telephone dial don’t have letters by them?

6. When you walk does your left arm swing with your right or left leg? (Don’t you dare get up to see!)

7. How many matches are in a standard pack?

8. On the United State s flag is the top stripe red or white?

9. What is the lowest number on a U.S. FM radio Dial?

10. Which way does water go down the drain, counter or clockwise?

11. Which way does a “no smoking” sign’s slash run?

12.  Coca-Cola.  Read the text in