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July 19, 2009 10:36 PM   Subscribe

The ultimate exam. 15 questions designed to test your knowledge and abilities in a variety of subjects.
posted by blue_beetle (55 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have discovered truly marvelous answers to these, which this margin is too narrow to contain.
posted by lumensimus at 10:43 PM on July 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


There was, alas, no such person as Gregory of Nicea.
posted by nasreddin at 10:52 PM on July 19, 2009


This was funny when I first read it about 30 years ago.
posted by pjern at 10:57 PM on July 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


There was, alas, no such person as Gregory of Nicea.

Likewise, I believe they meant Alexander of Aphrodesias not Alexander of Aphrodites.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:57 PM on July 19, 2009


Hmm, I definitely remember seeing that years ago. Googling around shows it's definitely been in circulation for a while. If the first link is to be believed, since the 1950s.
posted by kmz at 10:57 PM on July 19, 2009


The History question feels uncomfortably close to how a professor of mine writes the questions for his tests. I failed his class. :<
posted by Memo at 10:59 PM on July 19, 2009


And now I'm feeling nostalgic for the old wiretap.spies.com archive that had a ton of humor texts in the Gopher days. (Who needs this fancy "world wide web" stuff when you already have Gopher??) Not sure if that's where I first saw this but it reminded me of it.
posted by kmz at 11:00 PM on July 19, 2009


Yeah, definitely been around a bit. It is still amusing, I think, in the details: "Clean up your experiment," "any language except Latin or Greek," etc.

What new questions could we add in the 21st century?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:10 PM on July 19, 2009


And here I thought the King William's College quiz was tough.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:15 PM on July 19, 2009


There was, alas, no such person as Gregory of Nicea.

They probably meant Gregory of Nyssa. You'd think that people who had heard of him would be able to get the name right, though.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:18 PM on July 19, 2009


Is it just me, or did the Engineering problem sound totally reasonable?

I'm pretty sure I'd get credit for that one.
posted by Netzapper at 11:33 PM on July 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


The history part of this exam is actually the funniest, because it's so easy if you have a certain basic level of world-history knowledge (a high school class would be enough). Most people assume that historical problems get harder as they get bigger, but they're wrong. Any idiot with a diploma can sketch out a couple of theories about the development of capitalism or the fall of the Roman Empire--but ask a historian about the immediate economic implications of the Battle of Culloden and all he can do is flounder, unless it happens to be his immediate area of interest.
posted by nasreddin at 11:35 PM on July 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Culloden
excerpts only
posted by Wolof at 11:45 PM on July 19, 2009


I'm embarrassed to admit that I cheated during this exam by looking over the shoulder of another Mefite.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:52 PM on July 19, 2009


This was posted in an English teacher's classroom at my high school. Much more entertaining that Great Expectations.
posted by clorox at 12:00 AM on July 20, 2009


This reminds me of 1066 and All That.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:18 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


And now I'm feeling nostalgic for the old wiretap.spies.com archive that had a ton of humor texts in the Gopher days. (Who needs this fancy "world wide web" stuff when you already have Gopher??) Not sure if that's where I first saw this but it reminded me of it.

Wiretap is actually still around (I know a lot of people behind it over the years). It's at wiretap.area.com now, but needs a little google help to traverse some links.

For example, the final exam is just where you last left it: http://wiretap.area.com/Gopher/Library/Humor/Misc/final-ex.txt.
posted by jscott at 12:53 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, note the 1983 mark on it. That's 26 years ago, and that's AFTER it made the jump to online from paper. The classics.
posted by jscott at 12:54 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I looked under my desk, twice, and there's no piano.
I'm disappointed, and now feel as though this was all just for fun.
So now what do I do with my appendix?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:54 AM on July 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


I like how sociology has the only question that pretty much anyone could answer. Remember kids: sociology is not a legitimate field of study.
posted by martens at 12:55 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love that this has resurfaced.

Much more entertaining that Great Expectations

Many things are.
posted by neewom at 2:59 AM on July 20, 2009


I actually scored better on this than I did on the MeFi history quiz, but 98% isn't something I'm proud of, I could have done better.
posted by HuronBob at 3:25 AM on July 20, 2009


My end-of-year assignment for a Materials Tech paper was 'Write about the properties of materials.' (10,000 words.)
posted by mhjb at 4:39 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


At first I thought it was going to be a test like this one - which I remember fondly from a school classroom (item 12 is particularly fun).
posted by rongorongo at 4:50 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oddly enough, when reading this, I was reminded of a nightmarish assignment I had in a Renaissance Literature literature class at SFSU.

If you taught this class at SFSU in 1988, then you're a dick and there's no hope for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 AM on July 20, 2009


Man, those 'humourous office circulars' refuse to die.

The one that goes --
". . . Now [current president] is stealing your shovels, kicking your asses, and mortgaging the promised land. . . PS: [current president] is considering changing the [current president's political party] symbol from [elephant/donkey] to a condom, because it stands for inflation, protects a bunch of pricks, halts production, and gives a false sense of security while being screwed."
-- I have seen applied to every president since Nixon, and it was probably in use before that. But I still have in my files a mimeograph of one bearing Nixon's name from 1973 or thereabouts to prove how old that gag is.
posted by Herodios at 6:47 AM on July 20, 2009


Ah, and ten seconds more digging reveals [via snopes] that is goes back at least as far as Eisenhower.
posted by Herodios at 6:51 AM on July 20, 2009


14/15

Messed up on the appendix
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:58 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Might be funnier if whoever put it together could distinguish between the words "an" and "and."
posted by newmoistness at 6:59 AM on July 20, 2009


I think the Political Science question would be fairly simple, honestly, assuming I could get the right phone numbers.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:05 AM on July 20, 2009


This was cuter when I got it as an email forward in 1995.

But, then, I was cuter when I got it as an email forward in 1995.
posted by Epenthesis at 7:21 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how sociology has the only question that pretty much anyone could answer. Remember kids: sociology is not a legitimate field of study.

Ha! I spent an entire semester studying color!
Also, creative writing. I can't believe I took that class. Also, if you ever decide to take a creative writing class, please please please ask the professor to put some kind of restriction on the writing subject otherwise (true story) you will end up hearing a narrative about two gay gays raping their adopted infant son.

The author in question was, in my opinion, a complete and utter asshole. He was one of the last people to present his story, and had been extremely dismissive of everyone else's writing up to that point. Everyone else would offer their criticism of a story, and it would be his turn to offer feedback, and he'd simply shrug and say, "I didn't like it." "Can you offer any criticisms?" "It just wasn't that interesting, you know?" And then, baby rape. A couple of years later, there was a huge controversy at school when some campus cops "beat up and arrested some students". There was the traditional student outrage even though in fact both cops and students had to go to the hospital as a result of the altercation. One of the students involved in the ruckus? Mr. Baby Rape. I shed no tears over his almost certainly well-deserved injuries, and I'm pretty sure none of the other students in my creative writing class did, either.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:30 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's not mathematics question :(. This is not the ultimate exam.
posted by bluefly at 7:39 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


*no math question
posted by bluefly at 7:39 AM on July 20, 2009


I did better on this one than that Metafilter quiz.
posted by TedW at 8:01 AM on July 20, 2009


Hasn't this been circulating on the Internet basically forever?

And I agree, this can't be the "ultimate exam" without a math question. I suggest "prove the Riemann hypothesis".
posted by madcaptenor at 8:05 AM on July 20, 2009


They probably meant Gregory of Nyssa. You'd think that people who had heard of him would be able to get the name right, though.
My initial guess was Gregory of Nazianzus, figuring that the author was thinking to himself, "Gregory of Nuh... Nuh... um, Nicaea! That sounds right!" His contemporary and friend St. Gregory of Nyssa is probably the more likely candidate for what the author was thinking.

I wonder why I didn't notice it back in 1989 when I read this for the first time.

Really, blue_beatle, you're posting stuff that our high school teachers posted on their bulletin boards by their desks? Really?
posted by deanc at 8:16 AM on July 20, 2009


Oh wait, this exam was a joke? So, um, hypothetical question: how would one un-start World War III, should the need arise?

...I need to go make some phone calls.
posted by pemberkins at 8:16 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


One could argue that math is important enough that it should be involved in all the other answers.
posted by Phantomx at 8:17 AM on July 20, 2009


Really, blue_beatle, you're posting stuff that our high school teachers posted on their bulletin boards by their desks? Really?

Really, deanc, you think everyone had the same high school teachers you did, and/or that only stuff created in the last 24 hours should be posted to MeFi? Really?

I hadn't seen this before, enjoyed it greatly, and am glad it was posted. Suck it, haters.
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


16. NEUROSCIENCE
Describe in detail the physiology of the brain and how it gives rise to consciousness. Demonstrate your knowledge by constructing an artificial functioning human brain.

17. MATHEMATICS
Choose an appropriate set of axioms, and classify all finite simple groups. Justify every step and prove your lemmas.

18. COMPUTER SCIENCE
Does P = NP? Prove your answer.
posted by parudox at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Create life."

Holy shit. And I thought I had test anxiety over the bar exam. Now you want me to do WHAT?! with a woman? Ummm. Can I get a note from my mom?
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:12 AM on July 20, 2009


Really, blue_beetle, you're posting stuff that our high school teachers posted on their bulletin boards by their desks? Really?

Good stuff never goes out of style, even if it is old. I was more worried about it being a SLBP.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2009


The real trouble is how teachers nowadays just insist on teaching to the test.
posted by klangklangston at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder why I didn't notice it back in 1989 when I read this for the first time.

Idunno, man. I was three in 1989. Definitely didn't catch it then, and I'm glad it got posted now. Thanks, blue_beetle.

19. LINGUISTICS

Under your desk you will find Dr. Noam Chomsky. Convince him that he is wrong about any one facet of the field, using only pharyngeal consonants.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:19 AM on July 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


This isn't multiple choice?
posted by doctor_negative at 10:53 AM on July 20, 2009


20. LITERATURE/PSYCHOLOGY

Your friend Tom sends you an email that starts, "Now is the winter of our discontent" and then continues. That's bad, right?

21. ENTYMOLOGY/ETYMOLOGY

The exterminator calls you back. "I decimated the roaches!" So are the roaches gone, or not?

22. EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

What animal is the closest genetic relative to the triceratops?


If you consider that a test is not a confirmation of what has been learned, but rather as the driver of learning, than most school tests do more harm than good. Education should synthesize information and teach you how to think. Tests instead compartmentalize information, making the info almost useless. For example, if I ask you when Galileo lived, you might have a good guess. But if I asked what was going on in America at the same time, it's is a very unnatural way of thinking for us, even though the answer (Pilgrims; Jamestown Massacre) required the same historical context.

My questions above are all easy, except that they have been made difficult by the way we were taught the answers. 20 and 21 require you to know not the correct answer, but what the other person thinks is the correct answer. And 22-- even though everyone knows triceratops was a reptile (or maybe a bird), still people want to say rhinoceros. Why? Because they were taught evolution based on morphology, not genetics-- because that is easier to teach.

Education is at the convenience of the educators, not for the benefit of the student.

/rant
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 11:49 AM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


posted by Saxon Kane What new questions could we add in the 21st century?

16. How is babby formed? How girl get pragnent?

17. Where's Obama's birth certificate?
posted by mattdidthat at 12:04 PM on July 20, 2009


Not that decimation pedantry again. In vernacular English, yes -- he's made a significant dent in the roach population.
posted by lumensimus at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


21 require you to know not the correct answer, but what the other person thinks is the correct answer.
You're assuming the test-taker has a pedantic understanding of what "decimated" means and has to understand that the vernacular usage is different. That makes no sense: everyone who is fluent in English by definition has an understanding of the vernacular. 21 is only of interest in that you managed to combine etymology and entomology.
posted by deanc at 12:55 PM on July 20, 2009


And 22-- even though everyone knows triceratops was a reptile (or maybe a bird), still people want to say rhinoceros. Why? Because they were taught evolution based on morphology, not genetics-- because that is easier to teach.

Huh? What people want to say that? I mean, I get your point about teaching evolution morphologically. But, really, I don't think I've ever met somebody who would answer your open-ended question with "rhinoceros".
posted by Netzapper at 1:05 PM on July 20, 2009


Is it just me, or did the Engineering problem sound totally reasonable?

I'm pretty sure I'd get credit for that one.


Since there's no mention of ammunition, if you survived, you'd certainly have earned said credit...
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009


16. ENGLISH
Find an obvious grammatical or typographical error in this sentence from the first question of an online exam:

Describe the history of the papacy from its origin to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on it social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
posted by speicus at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2009


So now what do I do with my appendix?

Play the organ?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


The engineering question was engineering only as much as following lego instructions is engineering.
posted by garlic at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2009


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