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December 19, 2013 2:18 PM   Subscribe

39 Test Answers That Are 100% Wrong These are actually pretty fun.
posted by turbid dahlia (135 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I'd tell him not to go to a play ever" is very sweet.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:22 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's a bit of a story behind the Chinese letter homework assignment.
posted by jess at 2:22 PM on December 19, 2013 [48 favorites]


"Tedison"?
posted by Going To Maine at 2:23 PM on December 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the "Find x" one actually predates Pythagoras. Because it is old. That is what I am saying.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:25 PM on December 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Write an example of a risk:
"This."
Nice, and I see it got a tick mark too.

The "illiterate" must be fake - in fact, most of them must be fake, right?
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:25 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Re: 19. Yes, I figured that one was out of place, as it seemed to be answered correctly, and I thought the joke was in the actual text, but I can't read Chinese, and then I thought, neither can a lot of people who would be reading this, and I just decided it was some meta thing.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:26 PM on December 19, 2013


A lot of those are correct. Wise-alecky, but correct. I'm glad "This" got a check, because it's the best one.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:26 PM on December 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Now I want someone to do 100 Test Answers That Are 39% Wrong.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:28 PM on December 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


I doubt these are fake, I used to pretty regularly answer test questions like this.
posted by fshgrl at 2:29 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, you shouldn't hit dogs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:32 PM on December 19, 2013 [44 favorites]


Every time I see a "Name this thing" question I'm tempted to give that answer. Good for you, Hope. Good for you.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:33 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Saturn was NOT a single lady.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 2:35 PM on December 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


The teacher's comment on the first question is wrong. It's faulty logic to say "the number is even because the last digit is even", even though that's true, because it it doesn't answer why "8" is even except as rote-learnt information. It should be "because the number is divisble by 2 with no remainder", for a child of that age.
posted by Thing at 2:36 PM on December 19, 2013 [63 favorites]


"I'd tell him not to go to a play ever" is very sweet.

This is why I couldn't be a teacher because stuff like that mean I'd give that kid a pass for the rest of the year.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:36 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


God, some of these are brilliant! (And also reminded me of Cliff's famous answer, "Who are three people who've never been in my kitchen.")

The "expand" one -- dear god, hilarious.
posted by MoxieProxy at 2:38 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the best one is "0% because you flipped the coin first"
posted by janey47 at 2:39 PM on December 19, 2013 [68 favorites]


23 is a university teaching evaluation, not a test and certainly not "wrong."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:39 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can someone, by the way, tell me what was written on the test sheet where the teacher's response was "ALEX NO!"
posted by janey47 at 2:40 PM on December 19, 2013


Can someone, by the way, tell me what was written on the test sheet where the teacher's response was "ALEX NO!"

Eye of Sauron
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:42 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


+ Fires Of Mount Doom (I think)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:43 PM on December 19, 2013


Huh, so people use "genius" as an adjective meaning "brilliant" which goes with any noun now. It's kind of interesting, how going to the trouble of articulating a qualified statement like "that idea is a stroke of genius" or "she must be a genius to have thought of that" gets metonymically truncated, use-wise, to expressions like "genius idea" or "this thing is genius".
posted by clockzero at 2:44 PM on December 19, 2013


Back when I was in high school, there was a story like this going around about a physics student. He was given the assignment: "You have a barometer. Determine the height of a building."

He just sat there, and the physics teacher asked him was the problem was. His answer was that he was trying to decide which of many solutions to use.

1. He could drop the barometer off the top of the building and measure how long it took to hit the ground. (Or measure how long it took the sound of the impact to reach him at the top.)
2. He could measure the shadow cast by the barometer and the shadow cast by the building and compare them.
3. He could weigh the barometer when at the bottom and again at the top and measure how much the weight decreased.
4. He could tie a piece of string to the barometer and measure its swing time at the bottom, and again at the top.
5.... and there were several others, leading to:
n. He could go to the building's office and say, "If you'll tell me how tall this building is, I'll give you this fine barometer."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2013 [83 favorites]


12 is even "Because the number in the one's place is even."

No. The number in the one's place is odd, because it is 1.
The number in the ones' place is even.
There is something very satisfying about correcting teachers.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:57 PM on December 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


I so much hope that HCOONa Matata is real.
posted by billiebee at 3:02 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


It may be old, but I got to #20 and lost it.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:06 PM on December 19, 2013


> There is something very satisfying about correcting teachers

In Grade 7 I read Childhood's End, which includes a scene where a human character stows away on an alien spaceship travelling at near-light speeds and experiences time dilation. Being a nerdy kid, I looked it up in a non-fiction book and then mentioned the concept to my teacher during class, only to have him tell me that was just science fiction. Rather than get indignant about it, I secretly relished knowing something he didn't (and the knowledge that teachers weren't always right).
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:06 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thanks, fearfulsymmetry. I probably should have known that even knowing what was written wouldn't shed any light for me. Google helped but I guess I'm just out of touch. Ha!
posted by janey47 at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2013


"I think the best one is '0% because you flipped the coin first'"

Yeah, it really bothers me that it was marked as incorrect. It was a probability question. That answer was absolutely correct. It wasn't a trick, it wasn't relying upon equivocation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:10 PM on December 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


Hehe, yeah, I used to write smart-ass responses on my test papers when I couldn't answer the question, and just look at me now!
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:10 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of my friends in high school was a little fatigued at the end of junior? senior? year when she answered the question "What is a holdfast?" during a biology exam with "what you do when the car is going around a corner at a high rate of speed."
posted by Saddy Dumpington at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2013


I once answered "ich weiss nicht" on every exam question for a German course I knew I was going to flunk anyway. The best parts were a) the look on the face of the girl sitting behind me when I got up after ten minutes or whatever it was ("Oh my God, he's done???"), and b) my mark on the test was 4%.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I read this and shared it with my significant other, who was grading tests for his university-level class at the time. Some of the answers he was wading through were, "Oh, crap, I forget! Here's a drawing of a cat." and "El Cid was a controversial play. Pissed off a Pope or something." and "Oh sweet, I totally wrote my paper on this topic! So here's the deal . . ."

I want to name my next quadrilateral "Tedison".
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:14 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I doubt these are fake, I used to pretty regularly answer test questions like this.

Me too. In fact I still do in a way when I don't know an answer. Although mine tend to be kinda angry instead of funny. I'm taking a bunch of courses to get a certification that is of questionable worth and takes a ton of effort. The exams have at times been totally ludicrous. There was one that asked me to essentially make a medical diagnosis and prescribe treatment to an injured person, who was in a car accident and experiencing massive blood loss. This would in no way be something my profession would ever be involved in, and it was the worth something like 10% of the points. So I wrote "I would recommend they go to the hospital and see a fucking doctor before they make an insurance claim" and then launched in to a bit of an expletive-laden tirade about how ridiculous it was that I was getting evaluated on this basis. I did pass, but only just barely.
posted by Hoopo at 3:21 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why but I laughed like an idiot at

ALEX
NO

posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:23 PM on December 19, 2013 [24 favorites]


leading to:
n. He could go to the building's office and say, "If you'll tell me how tall this building is, I'll give you this fine barometer."


And also...

n+1. He could go to the building's office and say, "Tell me how tall this building is, or I'll bash your head in with this heavy barometer."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:27 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of a physics question we had at undergrad, it went along the lines of 'a frictionless roundabout is spinning at angular velocity w when a girl, of the same mass jumps on at a distance of 1 meter from the centre. What happens next?'

I did all the calculations but my smart arse tutorial partner just wrote 'she falls off'.
posted by Ned G at 3:32 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


There is something very satisfying about correcting teachers

UGH I AM STILL SO MAD AT MY PARENTS because why the fuck didn't they or anyone else ever warn 6-8 year old me that if you do this often and are always right, your second grade teacher will openly despise you and second grade will be the longest fucking year of your life and you will not get to be a little ladybug in the class play, instead you will be made to be DIRT.
posted by elizardbits at 3:33 PM on December 19, 2013 [60 favorites]


The barometer story (and it's so widely told, it's like a fable) is used as an example of how much knowledge is encoded in the cultural context within which test taking exists. A number of these funny answers are similar.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:34 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of a physics question we had at undergrad, it went along the lines of 'A frictionless roundabout is spinning at angular velocity w when a girl, of the same mass jumps on at a distance of 1 meter from the centre. What happens next?'

I did all the calculations but my smart arse tutorial partner just wrote 'she falls off'.


Well there's nothing to keep her on the roundabout is there? It's frictionless.
posted by RobotHero at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


The one about "Draw What You Will Look Like in a 100 Years" made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe for a minute there.
posted by Kitteh at 3:51 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've always liked this one.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


Speaking of ladybugs, apparently they have a lot of STDs. Very promiscuous, ladybugs.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:58 PM on December 19, 2013


The barometer story (and it's so widely told, it's like a fable) is used as an example of how much knowledge is encoded in the cultural context within which test taking exists. This.

I teach in an American diploma program in China and most of my kids plan to go to University in the US. A lot of what I do ends up being not test prep but American Educational Culture Preparation. A lot of the expectations around school and tests are more cultural than I would expect. I'm always being surprised. (I enjoy telling my students I don't know something or apologizing for my mistakes because the confused/suspicious look they get shows that they don't hear those things from adults much.)

Even for native speakers, precision in question writing and directions is really important. I expect my students to be careful and thoughtful when they're doing the work, so I need to be very careful when writing questions. Many of these show either a reliance on shared culture or imprecision in questioning. For me, this means that I rarely use pre-made tests and quizzes because they are often imprecise or include confusing multiple-choice questions.

This reminds me of Thanks, Textbooks, which I love. Look at the most recent entry! I die.
posted by MsDaniB at 4:01 PM on December 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I once took a psychology course and was disappointed to find it was basically a repeat of the same material I'd already learned senior year of high school. We had a quiz once on the parts of the brain that was like, six or seven answers. After finishing it, for whatever reason, I drew a small lump under the frontal lobe and labelled it "Steve gland", giving it the function "controls craving for 7-11 pizza."

Getting the quiz back, the professor drew a little X over the Steve gland, crossed out the function, and wrote, "This is not a part of the brain" in the margin. That really tickled me. And still, A-.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I think uteropanther was my favorite of these.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


In 10th grade American history, I'd forgotten exactly where the famous Native American protest took place, but recalled just enough to make a try for it on the test with "Wounded Elbow." My teacher didn't give me any points, but was amused enough to share with the whole class.
posted by aintthattheway at 4:05 PM on December 19, 2013


nothing wrong with these punks that a few afternoons cleaning erasers won't fix
posted by thelonius at 4:05 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of Thanks, Textbooks, which I love. Look at the most recent entry! I die.

Wow.

That is all.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:06 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The 'risk' one is a little dubious. I'm quite sure I heard this as urban legend type story 15 or more years ago.
posted by efalk at 4:06 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


A great answer to an incorrect question.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:10 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's funny how anyone can take a red pen and make a comment and take a photo of it and no one doubts that a teacher wrote it - its like we're conditioned.

I am that teacher who appreciates her students' creative and outside-the-box answers like this and will award points. Anyone can regurgitate information, but it takes real smarts to solve problems and think critically and take risks with such answers. The world needs more thinkers like that and a little piece of me dies inside whenever I see other teachers stifle that in their students.
posted by NoraCharles at 4:21 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


A great answer to an incorrect question.

Serious question: what's wrong with it? Admittedly I haven't taken geometry in like fourteen and a half years but I thought the answer would be angle FDB because when you add it to BDC it equals 180 degrees? I assume ADB is included in case people get "complimentary" and "supplementary" mixed up, but as I say I haven't taken geometry in a really long time so I actually would appreciate knowing what's wrong with that question.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:29 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Complementary angle. Like a complementary color. A compliment is a flattering comment.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:34 PM on December 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sodium formate matata?
posted by peeedro at 4:37 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hakuna matata.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2013


I couldn't stop laughing at the walrus cheerfully obstructing half a page's worth of partially complete answers.

As a grader I run into these from time to time. My best was an essay question answered with a sad, perplexed frowney face. It had to get a zero, but for a moment the bureaucracy fell away and human emotion was all there was. I kept a copy out of fellow feeling.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:41 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I had a law school final that we were allowed to bring in the relevant statutes. I didn't notice that my printer had run out of paper just before the last one on my giant list. A bit stressed out, at the time. When I got to the relevant question, it was something about how I'd advise a hypothetical client in that situation. I put down something about how I didn't have that particular statute on me, but I remembered this much about it, and being a sensible attorney, rather than saying something more about what I only vaguely remembered, I would tell them I'd call them back, go pull up the statute in question, and contact them later with whether they met the requirements for... whatever it was.

I got almost full points on the question and an A on the final. I'm still really pleased about that. But I really was being a smartass, because I was frustrated by the number of exams I had that allowed us to bring in only limited information (if any) and expected us to just kind of guess at things for points when to do so in the real world would have been malpractice.
posted by Sequence at 4:45 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Number 30.

Seriously whats the correct answer?
posted by Colonel Panic at 4:47 PM on December 19, 2013


elizardbits, that makes me sad.
posted by Songdog at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2013


I linked this in a previous thread on a similar topic, but it's just too brilliant not to repost: it starts with
"1) What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
Starting this homework
and just gets better from there.
posted by Len at 4:50 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm torn between laughing my ass off (19, Giraffes are heartless creatures, Warren RIP) and feeling teary (Answers to What is love, and I think my mom should do less of this.)
posted by bearwife at 4:56 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is further proof that Jay Leno is obsolete and we should mothball him.
posted by not_on_display at 4:57 PM on December 19, 2013


Complementary angle. Like a complementary color. A compliment is a flattering comment.

Ah! Thanks!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:08 PM on December 19, 2013


Also, Jay Leno contains quite a high percentage of saturated fat but it is ethically incorrect to eat late night presenters.
posted by ambrosen at 5:09 PM on December 19, 2013


Also, it reminds me of the time I drew a "Punnett's Cube" on a Biology test. My teacher marked it:

+10 points for creativity.
-10 points for being clueless.

I got a 4/100 on that test.
posted by not_on_display at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 'risk' one is a little dubious. I'm quite sure I heard this as urban legend type story 15 or more years ago.

The story when I was in college was this friend of a friend's dad, when he was in college, took a Philosophy final. The entire test consisted of just one question: "Why?" Friend of friend's dad wrote in his BlueBook, "Why not?" and got an A.

It seemed legit when I was taking Philosophy, but now...not so much.
posted by zardoz at 5:12 PM on December 19, 2013


bearwife, the "What is Love?" answer is not really sad, it's just further proof that these are probably quite old.
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:17 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


nothing wrong with these punks that a few afternoons cleaning erasers won't fix

*dunks erasers in water, places them in freezer*
posted by pyramid termite at 5:19 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


23 is a university teaching evaluation, not a test and certainly not "wrong."

That is the weirdest compliment I have ever received.
posted by 23 at 5:22 PM on December 19, 2013 [36 favorites]


I don't care if it's fake or not, the "risk" one is so meta and so perfect that it made my day.
posted by ftm at 5:23 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a story I found back when I was taking thermodynamics in college that I really appreciated:

"A thermodynamics professor had written a take home exam for his graduate students. It had one question: Is hell exothermic (giving off heat) or endothermic (taking in or absorbing heat)? Support your answer with a proof.

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant.

A1: So, if hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.

A2: Of course, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Therese Banyan during Freshman year, that "it will be a cold night in hell before I sleep with you" and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then A2 cannot be true, and hell is exothermic.


The student got the only A."
posted by C'est la D.C. at 5:29 PM on December 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


My uni had the same story about the philosophy exam, except that the perfect-scoring answer had been "because". I think it's one of the weirdly common campus legends, along with "the library is slowly sinking due to the weight of the books" (occasionally it's the swimming pool, due to the weight of the water), "[the cheapest student hall] was based on the design of a prison", "if the library burns down, everyone is just given a 2:1", etc.
posted by metaBugs at 5:31 PM on December 19, 2013


heh - at grand valley state, the legend was that the library was based on the design of a prison - or a big security bunker

well, actually, it was
posted by pyramid termite at 5:37 PM on December 19, 2013


feeling teary (Answers to What is love

I think that either you missed the joke here or have unusually painful memories of that Haddaway song
posted by Hoopo at 5:43 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


As a teacher, I am going to show a couple of these to my class, get a few laughs, and then say "Ok, now you know how to be a smart ass with your test answers. For my test, I will not accept literally-true-but-absurd-answers; I will only accept answers that pertain to what you learned." Then I'd laugh along with everyone else at any resultant smart ass answers and give them a big fat ZERO points.
posted by zardoz at 5:50 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's funny how anyone can take a red pen and make a comment and take a photo of it and no one doubts that a teacher wrote it - its like we're conditioned.

I think many of us don't care if they are all true or not, but can read them in context, like we might read fiction, and still laugh and enjoy them.
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:52 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can someone elucidate no. 30?
posted by anothermug at 6:03 PM on December 19, 2013


No. 30.
posted by maudlin at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2013


no matter how many times I see these I always laugh.
posted by insufficient data at 6:32 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once answered "ich weiss nicht" on every exam question for a German course I knew I was going to flunk anyway...
In my German class there was a question about what was said when the train was about to leave. I believe the 'correct' answer was supposed to be 'Alles einsteigen' or something like that, but of course I had not studied, so I answered 'Gib acht für den zug'.
I don't recall if I got any points for that.
posted by MtDewd at 6:33 PM on December 19, 2013


The Card Cheat: Being a nerdy kid, I looked it up in a non-fiction book and then mentioned the concept to my teacher during class, only to have him tell me that was just science fiction.

Once in grade nine we were asked "How do they separate metal from ore at a smelter?" Having just come from a tour of the smelter where my uncle worked, I was able to answer, "they pulverize the ore and mix it with soapy/sudsy water. The metal falls to the bottom, and the rock particles are carried away by the foam." The teacher said, "That's nonsense!", and then I was sent to the office for talking back. A little knowledge IS a dangerous thing -- who knew?
posted by sneebler at 6:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


No. The number in the one's place is odd, because it is 1.The number in the ones' place is even.

This response threw me off for a sec then I realized we used to refer to each digit from the right as the "ones, tens, hundreds..." sans apostrophe of course.
posted by lordaych at 6:55 PM on December 19, 2013


I wore NIN t-shirts non stop in high school, so a "NIN lunch box" of mine made its way into a physics exam regarding pendulums. My answer was "I'm too high and angsty to figure this out and appreciate your efforts to engage me at this time but I'm only interested in whoaaaa dude stoner conceptual bong circle physics. Sorry."

The lunch box didn't exist nor did I exactly reply that way...
posted by lordaych at 7:01 PM on December 19, 2013


There's a story in my wife's family about her dad's college roommate who allegedly wrote, in response to the question "Write about the unification of Italy," "I will when it happens."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:05 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess I was lucky that my teachers, grade school through grad school, reacted to my smart-assery with amused toleration rather than defensiveness. I remember my second-grade teacher reinforcing the idea of Q is always followed by u, no exceptions, and I pop out "Qatar." She promptly said, "That is correct, although an unusual case" and did what she always did, which was hand me a subversive novel. Which when you think about it is probably in the top 3 ways to handle a know-it-all kid who likes to correct the teacher: Just keep handing them subversive novels.

I definitely didn't think of myself as a funny kid, but I did a lot of this kind of stuff, in retrospect not because I was blowing off the material, but just because a lot of the stuff you have to do to acquire knowledge is kinda boring and repetitive. I was a good student and did my assignments well, but I'd get bored and I'd start doing random stupid shit in them. I had no idea that my prim old lady lit teacher knew that I was slipping a South Park quote into every essay just for fun until I was pressed for time and forgot one week, and she wrote at the end of the essay, "Where's my South Park quote?" A partner and I did an entire US history paper in nothing but lines from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wrote an assignment on the emperors of Rome to "We Didn't Star the Fire." I had a teacher who was always barking at us when we asked, "Where are we starting (in the text)?" with "Top left corner!" So I spent laborious hours writing an assignment that started from the bottom right and went backwards and up. He read it, graded it, and handed it back without comment. I turned in an assignment for a music class where I was analyzing a Charlie Parker album entirely as Poe's The Raven. I did a really serious essay for an upper-level grad class on the nature of evil, comparing Luther's conception of evil to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My extremely stodgy German professor, who winced whenever he looked at me because he didn't really think women should be studying graduate philosophy, so I always wore glittery and childish Ts to his class and acted extra empty-headed before demolishing my all-male classmates, just to make him crazy, actually ended up watching Buffy as a result. (He declared it more interesting on moral issues than he would have expected a teenaged show about vampires to be, but with many bare midriffs.)

But yeah, it wasn't disrespect for the material or the teachers, it was just that a lot of the work was repetitive and it was a way to keep myself entertained.

Anyway, subversive novels. It works.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:26 PM on December 19, 2013 [55 favorites]


'm only interested in whoaaaa dude stoner conceptual bong circle physics

Is there any other kind?
posted by telstar at 7:26 PM on December 19, 2013


"I think the best one is '0% because you flipped the coin first'"

Yeah, it really bothers me that it was marked as incorrect. It was a probability question. That answer was absolutely correct. It wasn't a trick, it wasn't relying upon equivocation.


I'm still mad about the time in 1st grade when we were learning about fact vs. opinion. The worksheet said "Jim likes flowers," I said it was a fact, and it got marked wrong. But it totally is a fact! A fact about his opinion! GAH!
posted by aka burlap at 7:33 PM on December 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


MetaFilter: Enough is enough, Judy!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:36 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"What is love?" Seriously? What the hell kind of question is that?
posted by odinsdream at 7:37 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Take the class and you'll probably find out.
posted by VTX at 7:38 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The version of the urban legend I heard had something like:
Q: Define bravery
A: This

To which my mental response was, "D-. I asked for a definition, not an example."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:40 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the answer to number 15's "How do we love God?" is "With all of our hearts, mind, and soul." Maybe someone else who took religion class for 12 or so years can corroborate that. I'm not exactly an expert on Catholic dogma.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 7:43 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are all awesome. I started outright guffawing at #9 and continued down the rest of the page.

One of my most treasured possessions is a math worksheet the kid brought home in grade 1. In addition to giving the answer, they were supposed to draw and write how they got it. My little nerd "drew" the equation in question and wrote below it "I'm good at math."
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:21 PM on December 19, 2013


I think the answer to number 15's "How do we love God?" is "With all of our hearts, mind, and soul." Maybe someone else who took religion class for 12 or so years can corroborate that. I'm not exactly an expert on Catholic dogma

"With all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself."

Personally, I also would have accepted "Be excellent to each another."

Seriously though, reading all of these hilarious answers made me wish I weren't so uptight when I was in school. I secretly envy these kids who had the guts to do this stuff.
posted by 4ster at 8:34 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


At West Point, whenever I didn't know the answer to a question (usually in Math class), I would just write "Beat Navy". Never got points for it.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 8:44 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I must have a very literal mind because the Chinese one stumped me. Like, gosh, I don't read mandarin and there's no transcript! Maybe some bilingual mefite will explain the joke!
posted by muddgirl at 8:49 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shit, when I have kids I am totally going to support them if they do this. Thinking on your feet and questioning authority are far more valuable life skills than answering "What is Love?"
posted by dry white toast at 8:56 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


unusually painful memories of that Haddaway song

hey the 90s were a rough time for us all

some people in this thread might have had jersey mall hair

for example
posted by elizardbits at 9:04 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


"What is love?" Seriously? What the hell kind of question is that?

That's what we call a "From My Brain" question. It's the best kind, even though it takes longer to answer and grade. There is more than one right answer and the answer has to come from your brain (as opposed to an "On The Page" question, like "Where was Lincoln born?" which has only one right answer and there it is, on the page.), but it should be supported with facts, probably ones that you just read about or that we talked about. "Was Columbus a good guy or a bad guy?" was on my American history exam. "What year did Columbus arrive in America?" was not.

From My Brain questions beg for fun, interesting answers. You can't copy the kid next to you or memorize a bunch of dates (only to forget them by next week). You need to demonstrate the ability to think, which many of these answers do!

I can see "What is love?" being on the Romeo and Juliet final. If we weren't out of time, I'd compliment the kid on the lyrics and ask him/her to try again because it doesn't answer the question.
posted by MsDaniB at 9:04 PM on December 19, 2013


#26 is making me think completely differently about my reproductive system.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:08 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Colonel Panic: "Number 30.

Seriously whats the correct answer?
"

Presumably the solid line represents something like the force some part of the body experiences during an unbelted car crash, and the dotted line represents the force experienced while wearing the seat belt.

So, the body is experiencing significantly higher instantaneous forces during the moments when the chest hits the steering wheel and the head hits the dashboard during an unbelted crash than it experiences during a belted crash.

Either that or the correct answer is to resist the lure of the ring and destroy it by casting it into the fiery heart of Mount Orodruin where it was forged.
posted by Reverend John at 9:32 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Honestly 4ster, there is nothing to be jealous of. Some of us answered questions like that because boredom is the enemy, boredom is the mindkiller, it is the little death, etc fuckin etc. That is my biggest memory from primary school. That and asshole math teachers who had memorized the answers and had no time to actually teach the math. They are my nemesis.
posted by evilDoug at 9:45 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The walrus reminded me of this John Finnemore sketch.
JF: What did you put for question 2?
Lizzy: Question 2? Lemme think… yeah, I did a drawing of a sea lion.
JF: Did you?
Lizzy: Yeah. Sea lion in a little hat. Why, what did you put?
JF: Well, we put different things, but not a sea lion in a little hat. Are you sure it wasn’t about the coefficient of friction between a cone and a plane?
Lizzy: Would the answer to that be a sea lion in a little hat?
Luke: Probably not.
Lizzy: Then I don’t think so.
posted by Lexica at 9:50 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


"#26 is making me think completely differently about my reproductive system."

Rawrr!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:52 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


are you watching us all with the eye of the tiger
posted by elizardbits at 9:59 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had no idea that my prim old lady lit teacher knew that I was slipping a South Park quote into every essay just for fun until I was pressed for time and forgot one week, and she wrote at the end of the essay, "Where's my South Park quote?" A partner and I did an entire US history paper in nothing but lines from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wrote an assignment on the emperors of Rome to "We Didn't Star the Fire." I had a teacher who was always barking at us when we asked, "Where are we starting (in the text)?" with "Top left corner!"

I am a perfesser, and I once gathered some preliminary data about winners and losers in the Base Realignment and Closing commissions to look for political influence (it looked annoyingly honest).

Why? Because I really wanted to write a paper titled "All Your Base Are Belong To Us."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:17 PM on December 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I had a first year university Math class where the Prof would stop showing all the steps to solve a problem after a while. As in if he was showing us a problem where the first half of the solution was new but then he'd get to a method that we'd done to death he'd draw a big cloud with "magic happens" and then show the end of the solution.

So of course on the final I knew how to start one of the problems but then forgot the rest of the method. So I of course drew a big cloud with "Magic happens" and guessed at the answer. Seemed I guessed right and got full marks and a "smart ass" comment.
posted by cirhosis at 12:20 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Damn it. Giraffes evolved long necks because they beat each other with them as part of their mating ritual. The giraffes with weaker, smaller necks didn't mate. They do not eat from absurdly tall trees.
posted by spiderskull at 12:22 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a high school principal and I teach a World History class and I love when my students correct me. In their midterm exam last week, I asked them to answer a question in a scenario where they were Chinese farmers in 1410 and they had to use the principles of a Malthusian cycle to solve a certain problem.

My favorite student: "If I was a farmer in 1410 China and I knew the principles of Malthusian cycles, I would be a TIME TRAVELLING FARMER BECAUSE MALTHUS WASN'T ALIVE THEN and I would TARDISSING MY CHINESE BUTT ALL OVER THE GALAXY."
posted by kinetic at 3:43 AM on December 20, 2013 [21 favorites]


I still remember my English class - I was maybe 11 - and we were given a set of words from which we had to construct grammatically correct sentences. I wrote "His mother is green" and was marked down for it. I was furious but it took me years before I could articulate why I had been so angry: yes, it was a nonsensical sentence but it was grammatically correct! AGHR.

When I build a time machine, I'll go back to that class and have him correct that mark.
posted by kariebookish at 6:48 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The same teacher incidentally also insisted that the Titanic had been torpedoed by German subs and when I brought a book in to correct him, I was sent to the Principal's office. /grumble
posted by kariebookish at 6:50 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The same teacher incidentally also insisted that the Titanic had been torpedoed by German subs

Ah, the infamous U-Eisberg.
posted by kmz at 7:10 AM on December 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


The same teacher incidentally also insisted that the Titanic had been torpedoed by German subs and when I brought a book in to correct him, I was sent to the Principal's office.

And what did the principal say? Something about chemtrails? Could have been a faculty of nothing but conspiracy nuts.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:30 AM on December 20, 2013


Many of these are addressed on the Snopes page of "exam scams," including the barometer one, the hell one, and the one-word exam answer. They're all labeled as legends, or unclassifiable.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:05 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


whoops i meant 31, whats the answer?
posted by Colonel Panic at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"And what did the principal say?"

So, when I was in first grade — which was in 1970 in a small town — one April day, the teacher asked the class why we celebrate Easter.

Not being in a churchgoing family and not knowing much about it, I ventured an answer: "To celebrate the death of Jesus?"

Many in the class laughed, to my confusion. The teacher was shocked and angry and sent me to the principal's office. The principal called my mother at her work and insisted that she come to the school right then. Once she got there, he explained that I was being a sacrilegious class-clown and I explained that I honestly thought that was the correct answer. She did her best to convince him that I was telling the truth, but he was skeptical. How could a child think that? Not in our fundamentalist community.

That kind of blows my mind in retrospect. But this was a community where, years later, when I did that stupidity I've mentioned of leading the police on a high-speed chase, one of the things the judge included in his sentencing was ... to go to church every Sunday. Seriously. I just ignored that requirement.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:31 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


To celebrate the death of Jesus?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son

Yeah, that's pretty much the point of Easter.
posted by ambrosen at 9:40 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that either you missed the joke here or have unusually painful memories of that Haddaway song

Since I never heard of the song before this thread, but have had plenty of experience with kids disclosing domestic violence, I missed the joke.

What's the joke in the answer to I wish my mom did less of this?
posted by bearwife at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2013


Bearwife: the joke that the kid's observation is that he wishes his mom drank less wine. (Implying the mom is drinking a lot).
posted by olya at 10:26 AM on December 20, 2013


Reverend John: "Either that or the correct answer is to resist the lure of the ring and destroy it by casting it into the fiery heart of Mount Orodruin where it was forged."

LOTRPedantry: It's just Orodruin (or Mount Doom). Orodruin means "fiery mountain" in Sindarin.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


In my Slice, I once answered that "The North triumphed over the South! " in answer to the question "Give an example of Our Lord's Grace in Service to Our Nation."

I was removed from the school and had to enlist for another four year tour while the rest of my friends graduated elementary school. Still, it was totally worth it.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


colonel panic --

I believe that you can't pull energy out of the water and put out exhaust at a higher temperature without violating one of the laws of thermodynamics. So he was fired for essentially proposing a perpetual motion machine.
posted by jclarkin at 12:09 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


the joke that the kid's observation is that he wishes his mom drank less wine. (Implying the mom is drinking a lot)

Yes, due to the absence of a pop tune reference I get that -- and why is that humorous?
posted by bearwife at 12:11 PM on December 20, 2013


"...and why is that humorous?"

It's not, it's sad. Someone who thinks it's a joke lacks some understanding of how an adult alcoholic affects their children.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:16 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Usually that particular joke answer rests on the assumption that the mother isn't actually an alcoholic, but that it appears that way based on what the kid drew. Kids aren't necessarily equipped to judge appropriate vs. inappropriate adult behaviors.
posted by muddgirl at 12:23 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I disagree, especially in the case of alcoholism. If parents regularly drink, kids aren't going to think much of it one way or another unless it causes behavioral problems that are difficult or unpleasant for the kids. And basically every child of an alcoholic has experienced that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:33 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I came home from a school DARE presentation thinking my dad was going to die of liver poisoning because he drinks an occasional beer with dinner, because I was a kid and had a rigid idea of right and wrong (drinking = bad). I don't know that kid's situation or even if it's a real exam, but I don't think the humor lies in laughing at alcoholism.
posted by muddgirl at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


But obviously humor is personal and it's clear there are multiple ways to interpret it.
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2013


My beloved son's work.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:54 PM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


That name the quadrilateral question cracked me right up.

Ever since I learned about boolean logic shortly after getting my first computer around grade three I've been greatly amused by test questions of the form "Is Foo a Bar or a Baz" because "yes" is a perfectly fine correct answer and even people with no logic training can see, in hindsight, that it is a correct answer if not the answer one would expect. But I've never quite had the chutzpa to put that down as an answer during an exam even though I've had ample opportunity. My latest round of Electrical training had an introduction to boolean logic and was the first exposure many of the students had to truth table. It was taught by someone new to this particular course and his exam questions therefor hadn't had the several years of massaging they normally would have. He had several of these types of questions and was a good sport in awarding marks the first time he was caught on one which I think injected a little fun for the students in a pretty dry topic.

sneebler: " The teacher said, "That's nonsense!", and then I was sent to the office for talking back. A little knowledge IS a dangerous thing -- who knew?"

This is something I've unfortunately already had to explain to my nine year old: that some times the right answer isn't the "correct" answer and if your instructor is looking for you to regurgitate a particular "correct" answer you can either be right with drama or you can get full marks by giving them the answer they are looking for maybe with a side of internal smugness but no drama. I'm not sure it's sitting too well with her yet.

ultraviolet catastrophe: "Many of these are addressed on the Snopes page of "exam scams," including the barometer one, the hell one, and the one-word exam answer. They're all labeled as legends, or unclassifiable."

Many of these, even if they started as legend, have undoubtedly been recreated hundreds of times because if you know you don't know an answer why not be wrong with flare cribbed from the internet and word of mouth.
posted by Mitheral at 9:19 PM on December 20, 2013


"Tedison"?

Heyo!
posted by Tedison at 10:18 PM on December 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


> This is something I've unfortunately already had to explain to my nine year old: that some times the right answer isn't the "correct" answer

I've taught my son the important phrase "The answer you're looking for is..."
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:23 AM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favourite instructor in culinary school was this doddering octogenarian who taught my food theory class. On the very first day, he told us he would lie to us on a regular basis.

None of the kids in class were able to understand why this was a good thing. About three of us got it, and spent a highly entertaining few months calling him on his lies. He'd often chortle with glee and say "Alright, you got me."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:57 AM on December 21, 2013


I'll never forget the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory, which I took twice in order to determine my suitability for very serious career changes and so of course I was quite invested in not appearing crazy.

One of the questions reads: True or False? "Sometimes I hear voices calling my name."

Well of COURSE I hear voices calling my name -- every time someone calls to me. If you mean *disembodied* voices or voices from the sky or from beyond the grave or what have you, SAY SO.

At the same time, I was pretty sure that they assumed I would know they weren't talking about people calling my name -- just voices.

So I thought I should answer "False"

But then I thought wait maybe this is a trick and they catch real crazies by getting them to deny the obvious -- which is that people do call your name from time to time and you hear them.

What made it even worse is that, with a one syllable name with a long A (Jane), I've actually had to learn to consciously ignore people who seem to be calling my name -- almost 100 percent of the time, they're hollering "HEY" at a friend or some other similar syllable, or just emphasizing the one long A syllable in a longer word. So that would kind of militate a "true" answer on the MMPI, but again, I can't imagine what my proposed employers would have thought if the testing agency told them I was delusional.

I still don't know how it's scored, and it haunts me to this day.
posted by janey47 at 11:13 AM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Richard Feynman at his draft-board exam:
"Do you think people talk about you?" [the psychiatrist] asks in a low, serious tone.

I light up and say "Sure! When I go home, my mother often tells me how she was telling her friends about me." He isn't listening to the explanation; instead, he's writing something down on my paper.

Then again, in a low, serious tone, he says "Do you think people stare at you?"

I'm all ready to say no, when he says, "For instance, do you think any of the boys waiting on the benches are staring at you now?"
[...]
So I turn around, an sure enough, two guys are looking. So I point to them and I say, "Yeah -- there's that guy, and that guy over there looking at us." Of course, when I'm turned around and pointing like that, other guys start to look at us, so I say, "Now him, and those other two over there -- an now the whole bunch." He still doesn't look up to check. He's busy writing more things on my paper.

Then he says "Do you ever hear voices in your head?"

"Very rarely," and I'm about to describe the two occasions on which it happened when he says, "Do you talk to yourself?"

"Yeah, sometimes when I'm shaving, or thinking; once in a while."
[...]
When he asked me to put out my hands, I couldn't resist pulling a trick a guy in the "bloodsucking line" had told me about. I figured nobody was ever going to get a chance to do this, and as long as I was halfway under water, I would do it. So I put out my hands with one palm up and the other one down.

The psychiatrist doesn't notice. He says, "Turn them over."

I turn them over. The one that was up goes down, and the one that was down goes up, and he still doesn't notice, because he's always looking very closely at one hand to see if it is shaking. So the trick had no effect.
[...]
Then at some point near the end he says, "How much do you value life?"

"Sixty-four."

"Why did you say 'sixty-four'?"

"How are you supposed to measure the value of life?"
[...]
While I'm waiting in the line, I look at the paper which has the summary of all the tests I've taken so far. And just for the hell of it, I show my paper ot the guy next to me, and I ask him in a rather stupid-sounding voice, "Hey! What did you get in 'Psychiatric?' Oh! You got an 'N.' I got an 'N' in everything else, but I got a 'D' in 'Psychiatric.' What does that mean?" I knew what it meant: "N" is normal, and "D" is deficient.
You can read the end of the story in Surely You're Jorking, Mr. Feynman!"

But the moral of the story is that sometimes smart-asses really are smart.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:28 AM on January 3


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