Friday, March 30, 2012

Pursuing Seminary: 567 questions to inventory my personality

After I finished all the online psych tests, next up was the MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2), a 567 true/false question test. The test was proctored at a psych office in New Brighton, which is apparently where all seminary prospects go to get psych-tested. It took me an hour and twenty minutes. Could have been done in less than half that time if it were electronic, but no, they require old-fangled #2 pencil and bubble-sheet answers.

Here are some example true/false questions from the test: (these are easily findable on the internet, so I'm not worried about divulging trade secrets)

  1. I like mechanics magazines
  2. I have a good appetite
  3. I wake up fresh & rested most mornings
  4. I think I would like the work of a librarian
  5. I am easily awakened by noise
  6. I like to read newspaper articles on crime
  7. My hands and feet are usually warm enough
  8. My daily life is full of things that keep me interested
  9. I am about as able to work as I ever was
  10. There seems to be a lump in my throat much of the time
  11. A person should try to understand his dreams and be guided by or take warning from them
  12. I enjoy detective or mystery stories
  13. I work under a great deal of tension
  14. I have diarrhea once a month or more
  15. Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about

Of course, my favorites were the ones later on, things like, "I hear voices" and stuff.

The results from this test are interpreted by the psychologist, with whom I met on March 14th. That's coming in a later blog post.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Pursuing Seminary: Psych Evaluation

I finished reading all my ELCA candidacy materials (um, actually that's not true - they gave me a book to read, which I've not yet cracked open, but I DID read all the packets and sheets of paper in the folder from my candidacy conversation earlier this week!). And even though I've yet to complete my official application with the synod, I've already started working on the psych evaluations. It's a good thing no one told me how long they were before I started, otherwise I might have been scared away.

The folks determining my craziness/sanity are the North Central Ministry Development Center. On their page for "Candidate Registration" are 8 required forms that need to be completed. That's just step 1. Once those are done, there are three personality inventories that need to be completed, one in person at the center in New Brighton (or with a proctor, like a pastor), and the other two online.* THEN, after ALL that is done, I'll have the real, three-hour, in-person psych evaluation.

* Their website says one online and two in-person, but the email I got had links to two online tests, so I don't really know.

Let's talk about how much time this has taken so far. Just to be clear, I'm not complaining about it, I'm documenting this in the hopes future seminarian hopefuls might find it useful.

Of the initial 8 forms, three have to be printed, signatured, and snail-mailed/faxed/delivered. Those were easy, because it was literally just a signature and date. Those forms give the Center permission to release my information back to the synod, and also say that I understand their privacy policy, etc. Short, simple, sweet, done.

But the other five forms. The first was short, biographical, who-are-you kind of stuff. The rest were beasts. For example, they asked "What persons, places, events, and/or experiences in your life have shaped your faith, and your decision to pursue a church vocation?"

Yeah, because that'll be a short answer. This was followed by two dozen more questions of near-equal breadth, such as "Describe your relationship with your father and your feelings about that relationship:" and then there are three boxes, for Childhood, Adolescence, and Adulthood.

My favorite question, though: "Estimation of time spent on this questionnaire". 2 hours.

Fortunately, the rest were shorter. Next up was "complete these sentences", with prompts like:
  • "My greatest fear" (I answered "Failure. Being left alone. (these serious fears are followed by a more facetious list including: worms, dogs, and small children)"
  • "I can't" ("read minds. I REALLY wish I could.")
  • "When I was a child" ("I thought as a child, but in too many areas, I haven't given up my childish ways. Maybe my inner child is a good thing, though.")
And many, many more.

Next up, medical form, easy, done. Then. Another hard one. List 25 accomplishments. I thought that would be easy, but one of my weaknesses (and I've known this for a long time) is coming up with examples on the spot. So, think of 25 things I've done? Uhhh... I've done... stuff...?

I ended up including a lot of work-related stuff, and probably not enough ministry-related feats. Then I had to write about my top 5 accomplishments. Example:

SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT: Developed an online back-to-school forms database for my school where I work; this was and remains a huge deal.
My school where I work used to send out a ridiculously large packet of back to school papers to parents over the summer. Not only was this expensive, but there was no way to track who was missing a form, who hadn't turned in any forms at all, and no easy reporting mechanism to collect all the data. Many of the offices needed to re-type the data into their own spreadsheets, which is prone to all sorts of human error.

I came along and said 'we can do this better, we can do it online, and I know I can code it.' It was a very very stressful summer, and gosh I learned so much about dealing with users, both the parents who filled out the online forms, but mostly the nurses and principals and deans who used the information on the back end. Lots of meetings went by, and eventually I had a finished product.

Over the years since, this online registration system has completely changed the way we operate. We now do class registration, summer school registration, all sorts of medical and volunteer forms, etc, all online through the system that I built. And I provide several dozen custom reports for departments all over the school. It's pretty awesome. For me to impress even myself is significant. This is one of those achievements.
Lastly on that form I needed to list my personal skills, strengths, and areas for growth, based on these accomplishments. The whole form probably took another hour. I couldn't resist, as my 25th accomplishment, I listed "Completed the last of these psych veal forms :)"

With all that finally done, this morning I called and scheduled my in-person inventory, and got a slot for tomorrow. They also emailed me links to the two online inventories that I need to do, so I started on those tonight. The first one was a Strong's Interest Inventory, consisting of about 300 questions on how well I like certain activities, how much I'd desire particular careers (regardless of current ability), etc. It was lengthy, but [relatively] quick.

Next up are 325 questions for something called a "PEPQ", which according to Google stands for "PsychEval Personality Questionnaire". These appear to be eye-doctor questions, because you're supposed to choose an either/or answer (there is a middle answer labeled "?", but the directions discourage using it). Here we go. Get 'er dun!