Yep, that’s right. I flunked a FICO test. How is that even possible I asked myself. I’m an expert on this financial stuff, right? Must be an issue with the grading. Nope. I was provided a copy of the test along with the correct answers. I flunked. I flunked a FICO test real good.
So, let me explain. A friend was requested to develop a training course for his fellow colleagues at a large financial institution. His form of training was unique. He created a quiz with questions about credit and scores. Each question would then be followed up with the correct answer and folks could self-score along the way. I thought it was a neat way to have his audience involved while reinforcing what I thought (falsely) everyone was fully knowledgeable about.
Answered in record time
He asked a bunch of friends to test out the questions (without the follow-on answers) to gauge the presentation. “Sure”, I said, thinking this would be an easy five minutes to help him out. First off, I answered the 20 questions in record time. I was the first to respond.
Unfortunately, when the results came back, it was quickly pointed out that I didn’t finish the quiz. I failed to answer the last 5 questions. Somehow, I stopped at 20 when there were 25 in all. Not off to a good start.
He let that slide and indicated he would grade me on the questions I did answer. Well then, I’m back on track. Starting with 100% not 80%.
Off to a great start
I jumped right in and thought I was off to a great start. First question was “What does ‘FICO’ stand for?” Easy one, right? FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation. Named after the founders Bill Fair and Earl Isaac.
Next question was “What is a FICO score?” Is it –
- A three-digit number calculated to determine a customer’s likelihood to repay a loan
- A predictive analytic tool developed by FICO
- A three-digit score available to lenders and consumers
- All of the above.
Of course, the answer is – “All of the above”.
The slide begins
After answering the first four questions correctly I was off to a great start. But then I started to slide. A really hard slide. I’ll focus on some of the questions I got wrong in hopes you may either increase your understanding of credit scores and credit scoring or have a good laugh at my expense for getting them wrong.
For instance, on “What is the approximate average FICO score in the US?’ I answered 600, but the answer is actually 700. Somehow with all the info out there, I thought it was lower. But it’s not. The answer points out that while the average is 700, scores vary by age group and socio-economic factors. For instance, the average FICO score for millennials is lower due to factors such as lack of credit history.
There was a couple of True/False questions tossed in. These should be easy…not for me.
“True or False: There is only one FICO score available to lenders?” I got this one wrong as I thought there is only one. In fact, there’s a bunch. FICO uses different models for different industries. For example, credit bureaus use versions such as FICO Auto Score 2, 4, 5 and 8 for auto loans. For mortgage lending, FICO Score 2, 4 and 5 are utilized. However, the most widely used model is FICO Score 8. Who knew? Apparently not me.
Another question I got wrong was “What are the two most impactful categories when determining a FICO score?” From a list of:
- Length of Credit History and Credit Mix
- Payment History and Amount Owed
- payment History and New Credit
- New Credit and Credit Mix.
I answered choice 1 – Length of Credit History and Credit Mix. While important, Payment history (35%) and Amounts Owed (30%) (Answer #2) are the two key factors used in calculating a FICO score. The weighting of other factors is – length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and credit mix (10%).
I stumbled on “What are the five FICO ratings?” by choosing answer 2 instead of answer 3 from the following choices:
- Bad, Better, Average, Very Good, Great
- Poor, Average, Good, Better, Best
- Very Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Exceptional
I should have gone back and changed my answer to the last question because its answer was hiding in the very next question (which of course I missed!). “What percentage of credit applicants fall into the good to exceptional range (670-850)?” The selection of responses was:
Incorrectly, I selected 34%, again thinking good to exceptional credit scores were hard to come by. In fact, the answer is 67%, much to my surprise.
I finished with a generous 60%
I finished the quiz with a generous score of 60%. If it were a school test, it would have been a 48% because I failed to answer the last 5 questions. Not good. Not good at all.
But that’s ok. While humbling, I now know more about FICO and credit scoring because of this exercise. It also led to some interesting discussions when we later talked with some of our friends that took the quiz. It was a good experience. If you’d like to learn more about FICO and your credit score, click here.
Hope that you have learned something
I also hope that perhaps you too have learned one or two new things about FICO and credit scoring. Your payment history and amounts owed go a long way in determining your overall score. Pay on time and try not to use the all of the credit granted to you. While it sounds counter intuitive the less you use of what you can borrow is better.
Paying on time and paying in full each month allows you to avoid costly late fees and interest. It will also boost your score and potentially increase the likelihood that you’ll qualify for lower interest rates in the future. That in turn, leaves more of your hard-saved money in the bank rather than in the lender’s pocket.
If you’re struggling with debt, check out my post last fall on tips to succeed in conquering it.
I’m hopeful my friend will be able to use his FICO training with his colleagues in the future as I found it helpful. Quiz/game style makes it interesting and competitive which should keep the trainees engaged. It should be successful.
Have you taken any financial quizzes recently? What were they? Leave your thoughts in the comments below to share with other readers.
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