The instructions for this exercise asked candidates to edit the following material, not limiting themselves to mere stylistic revision but rethinking the content and arrangement as well.
Shipping Magnets Internationally by Air
If you want to ship magnets internationally by air to or from the United States, you must know the regulations of the US Federal Aviation Administration and the International Air Transport Association. This is because magnets are covered by DGR regulations.
Any package containing magnets must carry the following Dangerous Goods Regulation label.
Flux measurements of all packages containing magnets must measure less than 0.00525 Gauss at a distance of 7 feet from the package. If flux measurements are less than 0.002 Gauss, the package is not considered to contain magnetic material and is not considered to be covered by DGR. A sensitive magnetometer can be used to determine the field strength at different distances.
Packaging materials for air shipment of magnets must be designed to contain the magnetic field produced by the magnets. Powerful magnet components and assemblies must generally be completely enclosed in steel-lined boxes.
Both the IATA and the FAA classify magnets as “Dangerous Goods” under the specific conditions described above. This is because a magnetic field could interfere with an airplane’s magnetic compass. Even with GPS navigation, the basic “wet” compass is still an important part of aircraft navigation.
We had hoped that in their responses to this editing exercise, candidates would recognize and correct two important problems in the original text.
First, we had hoped that candidates would recognize the most significant problem in the original text, in which the main idea really did not appear until the next-to-the-last sentence in the whole passage. Instead, the original text merely began by saying that shippers must know “DGR” regulations (whatever those are), if they wish to ship magnets by air to or from the United States. The obvious question is why? What problem do the regulations seek to solve?
As you can see, the first paragraph completely misses the key point that magnets can potentially interfere with the navigation of airplanes; therefore, the FAA and the IATA created regulations that shippers must observe if they wish to ship magnets by air internationally. The appropriate structure here would have been what we call “Problem/ Solution.” First the problem; then the solution. As it is in the original, the movement is solution to problem. That movement buries the main idea in the final paragraph.
Second, we had hoped that candidates would recognize that the arrangement of the original text is rather illogical. “Paragraph” 2 of the original talks about the warning label. “Paragraph” 3 talks about flux measurements that would determine whether or not a particular magnet would indeed be dangerous as defined by the FAA and IATA regulations. “Paragraph” 4 talks about the packaging materials required if a magnet’s flux measurement exceeds a specific quantity. To us, this original sequence of ideas seemed rather illogical.
We would recommend an arrangement based upon a problem-solving process. That is, what would a shipper have to do to deal with the fact that magnets might interfere with aircraft navigation? Once a shipper had identified a specific magnet that he or she would like to ship by air, he or she would use flux measurements to determine if that magnet would or would not meet a specific flux standard established by the FAA and IATA. Once the shipper knew the flux measurement, he or she would know whether or not steel-shielded packaging would be required. Then after the proper type of packaging had been determined, the shipper would package the magnet for shipping. Finally, when the packaging had been completed, the shipper would affix the required warning label to the outside of the container.
Now, in passing, let us point out a confusing point related to warning labels in the original passage. It presents an editing problem that neither we nor any of the TEP Test candidates could have solved without calling up the FAA and the IATA for clarification. Note that paragraph 2 says, “Any package containing magnets must carry the DGR label.” In other words, whether their flux measurements meet a specific standard or not, any package containing a magnet must carry the DGR label. No exceptions. However, now look at paragraph 3. It says, “ If flux measurements are less than 0.002 Gauss, the package is not considered to contain magnetic material and is not considered to be covered by DGR. So does the label need to be put on all packages or not? Only the FAA and IATA would be able to answer that question. Thus, as the original text stands, readers could not know for certain whether a label is required or not. That is clearly a flaw in the original text. (The safe solution for a shipper might be to place the label on all packages.)
In addition to the two main problems that we hoped candidates would recognize, there are at least three other smaller problems in the original text that candidates might have addressed. The first of these appears in paragraph 1, which introduces the term “DGR” with no definition. Paragraph 2 supplies the definition, “Dangerous Goods Regulation.” Candidates must remember that acronyms should never precede the full terms for which they substitute.
The second of these minor problems appears in paragraph 3. There are 3 sentences in the paragraph, the first and second of which specify the flux measurement standards that must be determined. The third sentence identifies the tool by which those measurements can be made: “a sensitive magnetometer can be used to determine the field strength at different distances.” Wouldn’t the tool be introduced first? (e.g., “Use a sensitive magnetometer to determine flux measurements at the following specific distances…..”)
Finally, a third minor problem of the original text is just plain wordiness and imprecision. For example, look at the first sentence: “If you want to ship magnets internationally by air to or from the United States, you must know the regulations of the US Federal Aviation Administration and the International Air Transport Association”. The first three words are superfluous. Drop out the “you” and just begin with to statement “To ship magnets internationally by air….” Then replace “you must know” with “you must observe” or “follow.” Knowing the regulations is not the same thing as doing what they require. Such a minor change will make the text only slightly shorter but more precise. (Another sentence appropriate for polishing is in paragraph 3—the sentence beginning “If flux measurements are less than….” )
Several candidates definitely supplied improved versions of the original passage. Among them, one candidate provided the following revision:
The Regulations for Shipping Magnets Internationally by Air
Purpose of This Material
Because a magnetic field can interfere with an airplane’s magnetic compass, if you wish to ship magnets internationally, you must conform to the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This material summarizes those regulations.
The regulations for shipping magnets are based upon two criteria for magnetic force and packaging.
1. Magnetic force
Flux measurements of all packages containing magnets must be taken with a sensitive magnetometer. These measurements must register less than 0.00525 Gauss at a distance of 7 feet from the package if the package is to be shipped by international air. If flux measurements are less than 0.002 Gauss, the package is not considered to contain magnetic material and is not considered to be covered by DGR.
Packaging materials for air transport of magnets must be designed to contain the magnetic field produced by the magnets contained therein. Powerful magnet components and assemblies therefore must generally be completely enclosed in steel-lined boxes. In addition, all packages containing magnets must carry the following Dangerous Goods Regulation label: