Test Preparation and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking

Test preparation is a hot topic with teachers and parents because the costs of student failure seem huge. So it seems to be a good time to write about test preparation and our Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) ­– Thinking Creatively with Pictures and Thinking Creatively with Words.

The immediate question is – should we prepare students to take a creativity test? The author of the TTCT, Dr. E. Paul Torrance, believed the answer was no because test prep may help students achieve entrance into a creative class or gifted program, but preparation could not increase a student’s creativity or determine how creative they can be.

We also believe that students should not be “prepped” prior to taking the TTCT for three reasons.

(1) One of the features of test preparation is that students often learn about how to take a test without increasing their ability to master test content. As a result, students who participated in test prep courses might receive spuriously high test scores that will cause them to be misplaced in a program for which they are not well-suited.

(2) The TTCT is a standardized test. Standardized test situations are prescribed so that all students taking the tests have the same opportunity. In other words, all students should be seeing the test for the first time, and they should all be prepared to do their best without any extra pretest help. On the TTCT, “doing their best” requires focusing on showing the examiner something creative that has never been seen or thought of before. When standardized testing is completed, prescriptive and diagnostic teaching should be used as a means to follow-up with students. In fact, we believe that any standardized test scores should be followed up with explanation and more directed teaching.

(3) When people ask us for test prep materials, we suggest that students and parents review the student’s current test scores and identify areas for improvement. Based on this review, students can focus on acquiring educational materials that will help them succeed in areas where they currently struggle. This kind of preparation will help students become better students not just better test-takers.

For more information on the TTCT, visit our website www.ststesting.com.


Books by E. Paul Torrance and Torrance Scholars

In Memory of Dr. John D. Kauffman


The Scholastic Testing Service family is mourning the recent loss of Dr. John D. Kauffman.  John began his journey at STS in 1974 and was serving most recently as our Vice-President of Marketing. During his time at STS, his efforts helped products like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking and the High School Placement Test become bestsellers.

John was known nationally and abroad as an advocate for gifted education and an expert in creativity assessments. He tirelessly promoted the Torrance Tests by co-sponsoring creative competitions; engaging in long-term research studies; and teaching scoring workshops.  John’s scoring workshops were always in great demand because he knew how to combine his expertise and sense of humor to insure that his sessions were as much fun as his whimsical neckties.

John also had great relationships with the administrators and admissions directors who used HSPT. He loved to travel across the country to meet personally with administrators, and was always responsive to their needs and concerns.

Dr. Kauffman will no longer be answering the phones here at Scholastic Testing Service. But his presence will remain with us. In his honor, we will continue our commitment to gifted education and assessments, and every customer will receive the personal service that he insisted upon.

Torrance Legacy Creative Writing Awards

As the publisher of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), STS is committed to furthering the legacy of TTCT author and creativity research pioneer, Dr. E. Paul Torrance. Because of this commitment, STS created the Torrance Legacy Creative Writing Awards with our co-sponsors to honor Dr. Torrance by encouraging students to exercise their creativity by writing their own poems and short stories. Now in its fourth year, the awards created in his honor have inspired more than 900 students worldwide to make their own works of art.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2012 Torrance Legacy Creative Writing Awards. Students in grades 2-12 may submit poems or short stories, which reflect one of the chosen creative themes. For students interested in the visual arts, visual arts projects are also accepted and judged separately by faculty from Knox College. For more information on the 2012 contest, please contact Joan Franklin Smutny at 847-256-1220 or email torrancewriting@centerforgifted.org.

Creative Writing Flyer Visual Arts Flyer

Torrance Legacy Awards – Deadline Approaching!

Attention creative writers and artists, only three and one half more weeks for submitting entries for the 2011 Torrance Legacy Awards—Creative Writing and Visual Arts Categories.

Entries have been received from all around the world.

Don’t let this opportunity to “showcase your talent”  and be a part of the global experience pass you by!

The deadline is August 15, 2011. Competition details are available at The Torrance Legacy website.

Comic Books as a Writing Tool?

Why do a great number of students have trouble writing words on the page? Is it a problem with language, underdeveloped literacy skills, or just a reluctance to write?  To counter these difficulties, some educators are using the art of comic books to give young authors a creative new way to dive into literacy learning.

Although generations of kids grew up with the impression that comic books don’t make the grade with parents and teachers, comic books are gaining new-found respectability in the learning community.  Increasingly popular creative programs boost kids’ literacy skills and self-esteem through the creation of their own fantasy-based characters and comic books. Kids love comic books and superheroes, and educators are exploiting the genre to teach literacy skills with material that students are fully invested in.

Arts-based literacy and learning programs such as the Comic Book Project are allowing students to create, develop, and publish their own comic books. The 12 Comics Learning Support program offers literacy services to organizations through creation of comic books and short films to support development of literacy, math, science, history, and oral communication skills. These thoughtfully designed programs are fine examples of using an art-based genre as the common tool to spark a child’s creativity while enhancing their learning potential.

Other organizations like 826NYC offer support to students with their writing skills by providing free tutoring and after school workshops in their writing center.  826NYC is also home to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, where 100% of the proceeds from the sale of capes, x-ray glasses and crime fighting novelties goes directly back to funding 826NYC educational programs.

Click the image to view a short video about 826NYC hosted on MSNBC.com.

Through these new visionary programs, educators have taken notice of the vital benefits an arts-based literacy and learning program can provide.  Do you think comic books and superheroes have a place in the classroom?

Torrance Legacy Awards and Visual Arts

E. Paul Torrance was an early leader in researching and writing about creativity. The creator of the famed Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), he devoted his life to helping children, parents, and teachers awaken their own creativity. Since 2008, under the leadership of Joan Franklin Smutny of the Center for the Gifted (a Northern Illinois University partner), Dr. Torrance’s accomplishments have been celebrated with the Torrance Legacy Awards for Creative Writing. The creative writing competition has been extremely successful, garnering entrants from students internationally. The marvelous works that children have submitted to date would make Dr. Torrance proud, and serve as a wonderful testimony to the lasting significance of his work.

This year the Torrance Legacy Awards are expanding to also recognize student creativity in the visual arts. Working with Joan and other members of the Torrance Legacy Committee, Stephen Schroth and Jason Helfer of Knox College are happy to announce that photographs of student works in the visual arts may be submitted as part of the awards competition in 2011. Students enrolled in grades 2 through 12 are eligible to submit a photograph of their best 2D or 3D work, or both, to be considered for an award. Scoring rubrics and other information will be available shortly. The visual arts awards join those in creative writing to celebrate both Dr. Torrance’s legacy as the father of creativity and the talents and skills of children around the globe.

Stephen T. Schroth, Ph.D.

Educational Studies Department

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois