As a child I found out early that multiple choice questions on tests were a trap. Even in arithmetic you could never entirely trust the teacher – if there were 4 answers, you were encouraged to think that at least one of them had to be right, but some teachers were cruel swine and put down a fifth choice: ” None of the above”. I resented this attitude for years until I realised that it was a ploy to draw me out of cover so that they could have an easy shot at me. Eventually, having gotten wise, I figured out a way to turn the tables on examiners:
A. When a multiple choice question is presented, renumber the answers on the answer sheet. Do it neatly but noticeably, and then give the right answer but with the alternative number you have assigned it. Then write ” I have renumbered the answers for you ” on the paper and wait for the fun. You have not told a lie, and you have answered correctly. Whether they can deal with it is their problem, not yours, and it is a multiple choice…
B. When a question asks for a date of some particular historical event, and you know it, by all means give it. But also supply the time of day. It doesn’t matter what time you choose because if you are questioned, you say that you were referencing a different time zone.
C. Some examiners like diagrams – some do not. Either way, draw lots of them and make them detailed with little labels. If they like them you get a high mark, and if they don’t you still get a good mark and the satisfaction of annoying them. The labels should refer to obscure facets of the diagram – the corners of an avocado, for instance. Purple and green are good ink colours.
D. Always read the questions through before starting to write. Out loud. You are not cheating, because everyone has them. But occasionally you can throw in an extra question that the other listeners do not have…
E. If you have answered the questions to the best of your ability and still have time left, do not make yourself feel bad by trying to second-guess what you originally wrote – in most cases your first answer was instinctively right and you will only muck things up by reviewing it. Instead, spend the time writing a couple more extra questions that you know the answers to and explaining those answers. Pitch your Q&A to the teacher as if they were slightly stupid but don’t be so condescending as to give the game away.
F. If you don’t know the answer to a question, state clearly that you do not. If you don’t care about it either, add that. If you think the question is foolish, that is a good thing to mention too, and at that point you can do several paragraphs questioning the teacher’s actual committment to improving the lives of students. You won’t get any marks for the question, but that was going to happen anyway, and the effect of the rest of it will be magic. You’ll know you’ve won when the teacher furiously starts to defend themselves to you.
G. It is hard to set an examination question in English Literature without asking for some sort of essay. This means you have an opening to start forth on a glorious, rambling journey of tedium. As long as you give whatever markers are appropriate for the subject – a date, a name, a book – you can divert through the sewers and the bushes. Tell the examiner about Jane Austen’s corncob fetish. Mention Dickens and little tiny dogs in pink bows. Ask whether we can ever really see the angst in ” Pollyanna “.
H. Shakespeare is a wonderful source of calcium and vitamin D if you are prepared to wave his works in front of a gushing English teacher. Make coy noises as you do.
I. Whenever someone tells you that you are going to have to undergo an oral exam, as soon as you walk into the room, say ” You like a bit of oral, eh? “. It doesn’t matter whether you are the first person in the day to say it or the twentieth, it always has an effect. Most examiners are more brittle than you would think.
J. Is your penmanship good? Could it be better? I would advise investing in the very best fountain pen that you can afford – one with a semi -broad calligraphy tip – and undertaking a course of study and practise so that you can produce a good Old English, German Black Letter, or Copperplate hand. if you can manage the handwriting of the 18th century it is even better as you have an opportunity to subftitute an f shape for the firft ‘s’ in many wordf. Done well, done consistently, it is a devastating thing. You can write the most appalling answers and express the most horrible thoughts and they will simply lap them up.
K. At the top of the exam write carefully that you are fully aware of your Eleventh Amendment rights and are putting the examiner ” on notice ” that you will be addressing the marking of the paper with that in mind. You have no idea what the 11th Amendment means, and neither does the examiner but the ” on notice ” bit is the payload.
L. No teacher, examiner, marker, or other official likes to see cheating. Never cheat. In fact, when you have finished as much of the paper as you care to do, write a short note saying that the remaining questions would involve you in dishonesty and decline to answer them. Stoutly refuse to to elaborate. If they press you say that you feel too much respect for the school to raise a scandal. Observe who sweats.
M. Slip a 50¢ piece in your exam paper when you hand it in. Mark it with a scriber beforehand. If it becomes dislodged and rolls out of the stack of papers, see if the examiner picks it up and pockets it. If it sticks in the stack, wait until the next day to report it. You can then decide whether you wish to create a small scandal or a large one, and who you wish to destroy. And all it costs is 50¢.
N. A warm exam room is a close environment at the best of times. Imagine what it would be like with a large piece of dog poo lodged under someone’s shoe. Here, Fido. Good boy, Fido.
Education is a wonderful thing, and everyone should have one. Even examiners.