Fairfax and Alexandria 10th graders were among 75,000 Virginia students who took minimum competency tests recently in reading and mathematics. State law requires all high school students, beginning with the class of 1981, to pass the tests before receiving a diploma. A passing score is 70.

The test questions are designed to measure a student's survival skills in adult life. They include items such as balancing a checkbook, understanding an income tax form, filling out a job application, multiplying decimals, figuring the perimeter of a rectangle and other similar tasks.

Students who fail the test may take it once a year until they complete high school. Students who miss the test must wait until the following year to take it again.

Test results are expected by mid-December, state school officials say.

The following are sample items from the test:


1. Multiply 1/4 by 2/3. Choose a)1/6 b)1/2 c)3/8 d)3/7.

2. 15 percent of 80 is: Choose a)120 b)12 c)5 d)15.

3. Which measures length? a)kilogram b)metre c)litre d)milligram.


Directions: Read the safety warnings in the boxes below and answer the questions that follow.

COLD MEDICINE. Adult Dosage: Two tablets every four hours, one to four times daily as needed, or as directed by physician. For children 6 to 12 years of age, use half the adult dosages. Warning: Do not give to children under 6 or use for more than 10 days unless directed by a physician. KEEP THIS AND ALL MEDICINES OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

Caution: Do not take without consulting a physician if under medical care. Consult a dentist promptly for toothache.

Questions: Your 3-year-old brother has a cold, and you give him one-half of one cold tablet. According to the warning, you are acting: a)correctly b)incorrectly.