Stupid Exams Mistakes Rant

I forgot to answer one 10 marks question. A question which I know the answer to. A question which I totally forgot about (it’s the very last) until I handed in the booklet.

The kicker? This is the third time, already!


So that I won’t be alone rolling the muck of self-pity, what are some other pretty dumb exam mistakes you have witnessed?

I once changed my answer on a multiple choice bubble sheet question – to the right answer – and got it marked wrong, because I hadn’t erased the wrong answer enough.

I went to an open book final without my book. I didn’t know it was open book, so I studied for it as if it were closed book. Unfortunately, when the prof knows it’s open book, he writes the exam differently, and expects more precise answers. Fortunately, I somehow got a B+ anyway, which was good enough for me.

On the bar exam, a friend of mine missed half the essay on one of the days. It’s one of those with a Part A and Part B. She finished Part A and then, since it was the last essay of the day, handed in her booklet and went outside for a smoke. While talking to another smoker, she realized (basically because he asked, “what’d you get for part B?”) that she hadn’t finished. She still passed the bar.

My genetics prof handed out two parts of the test (A & B), which I assumed were two
versions of the test (to cut down on cheating) so I didn’t bother to get part B. After
I got a 100% on part one, he came up to me and said he swore he graded my part B as
another 100%, but somehow lost it. Wasn’t sure if he was BSing me or was genuinely
confused; in any event it was the only class in my school career where I got perfect 100%'s
across the board for entire semester (otherwise)…

I arrived late to a physics class once to find everyone suspiciously focused on writing for a university class.

Turns out it was the mid-term (An exam and you didn’t realize it! A constant nightmare of students, up there with finding out you were signed up for a class but didn’t know and now it’s the final exam and you have to take it, or showing up to class nude). I must have gotten something like 65-80% anyway…

Not an exam, but I once got the highest marks in the county on a math contest, but was disqualified because my name didn’t match my student number. Pity, it would have looked right-purty on my university application.

During one Linguistics midterm, I had almost the completely right answer written on the exam. About five minutes before the end of the exam, I panicked. I erased everything I had written and then put down what sounded good but was wrong. I got a low D on that one.

When I told my favorite professor about it (he taught a different course), he said,

I took his advice for the rest of my college career.

The favorite professor, by the way, was fond of answering the question, “Can we work together on take-home exams?” with “Sure. There’s no way I can monitor you. Just ensure your answer is in your own words.” What he left unsaid was, “Sure, why not? It won’t do you any good!” That man’s tests were hard; however, I learned a lot in his classes and during his tests. Great professor.

On my PhD comps (in Renaissance lit), I somehow managed to confuse Spenser’s “Epithalamion” with Tennyson’s “In Memoriam.”

Two and a half centuries off. One poem about a wedding, and one poem about death. No discernable resemblance whatsoever :smack:

In my first year at University, I was not doing well, apart from one Maths subject.
In the exam, i answered all 5 questions perfectly and left early… :slight_smile:

…when the others came out, they asked how I’d done question 7 so quickly.

Question 7? What question 7? :confused:

Yes, I hadn’t turned over the question paper! :smack:

I got 61%, which is pretty much 100% on the questions I noticed.

I didn’t have a second year…

Genetics exam, multiple choice, 100 questions, 90 minutes. No calculator.

So… the probability of X person in a family tree having Y trait is…? There was quite a bit of math, and while I knew HOW to solve each question, I had to crunch the numbers by hand for every damn one of them, and made mistakes that way. I still managed a passing grade, but barely.

Not me, but a classmate in high school: Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Sex. He got confused between the answer and the mnemonic, apparently (King Philip Came Over For Great Sex).

I averted one. 10 multiple questions on the quiz; all had the answer “C”. It just didn’t look right, even though I was very confident my answers were all correct. After a few minutes of re-reading, I resisted the temptation to change any.

I was the only one to get 100%, because the other students couldn’t accept the test had 10 "C"s.

Instructor thought this was hilarious.

When I was an undergrad I took one course which was so easy it was unbelievable. When I took the final I just breezed through the test in a few minutes and ran out. Only one problem: I accidentally skipped one out of four pages on the test.

Anyway, the teacher knew me, knew that I knew the material and called me into his office. He showed me what I did and asked me to finish the test, which I did at that moment, and he gave me an A in the course. Can’t believe how lucky I was.

on a physics exam there was a questin that required calculating the field due to 3 pint electrical charges. A fairly hard problem given the time contraints of the exam, but NOT beyond what we had be taught. One student went forward and questioned the professor regarding the problem. Turns out he had meant only to ask for the field at the coordinate origion, a considerably easier problem. He then wrote this information on the chalk board at the front of the lecture hall. I was so fucused on solving the problem, as given, that I totally missed this. I solved the problem as given (a vector solution giving the field at all points in space except the location of the point charges). I was given about 15% credit for my answer. On appeal to the professor, pointing out tha plugging a value of <0,0,0> into my solution yielded the prefered answer, he awarded me 80% credit. Considering that I had solved a considerably more complex problem, it should have been 150%. Still pisses me off.

On a trade school quiz I calculated camshaft durations using 90 degrees for one half of a rotation - repeat for each of the ten questions on the quiz.

Until then I was tied for top of the class, grade for grade, with a mechanic who had ten years experience turning wrenches. When the quiz was returned I looked up to see him slowly turn around. We both looked at each others beet-red faces, and he said “Oh, you did it too.” Toward the end of the course he missed one more question than I did.

At Uni, it became pretty clear that the tutors marked people up or down quite deliberately - in your case he was minding your back. A sensible guy.

My proudest mark was in a Political Theory finals paper where I got an alpha/gamma - the papers were marked by two separate examiners, and although we were not supposed to know the marks, we got anonymous strips of paper showing them.

My most confusing result was in a GMAT I took in 1979, the overall result was highly satisfactory, but I was marked down on the business bit, which was strange as I had quite a handle on that area. I did not know, and still don’t know how to handle a situation where all the answers to a question are just plain wrong.

It was in the days before automatic marking, and I wrote in a mini essay in the margins explaining why I thought the only options were moronic.

It’s a business section.

Just because the answers were moronic doesn’t mean they were wrong; “moronic” and “correct” are not mutually exclusive options in the world of business.

I’m the only person I know who got a 1 on an AP exam. See, my senior year of high school, I took a physics course, and signed up for the AP exam. The Physics AP is broken up into two tests (for the price of one!) Mechanical, and Electricity/Magnetism. All year, all I was taught was mechanical physics, but I decided to try my luck on the E/M section. Was completely lost, so I ended up writing snarky answers for the short-answer section. Got the lowest grade possible, but I hope I put a smile on the face of some grader. :slight_smile:

Also, I don’t know if this counts, but I took some dumb standardized test in elementary school that asked the following question.

“Estimate the answer: 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2=?
a) 8
b) 16
c) 256
d) 400”

Or some such thing. Being the dork I am, I had memorized my powers of 2 for kicks and the answer immediately popped into my head! 256! I answered it accordingly, and got it wrong. See, I was supposed to estimate the answer to the problem, not actually solve it. :rolleyes: (I think they wanted 400. 2x2x2=8, rounded to 10, and such.)

Also, in elementary school, I got the following question on a basic science test:

“The sun rises in the ______.
a) North
b) South
c) East
d) West
e) None of the above”

Yeah, I answered ‘e.’ Because, you see, the sun doesn’t rise. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s the earth that rotates that gives the illusion of the sun rising. Got that one wrong too.

Then there was the “reading comprehension” part of some standardized test (again in elementary school) with an essay talking about the Sahara desert, claiming that it’s the “largest desert in the world.” Which is most assuredly wrong, because Antarctica is bigger, and it’s also a desert. IIRC, there’s a big swath of some ocean that also gets very little rainfall and is even bigger. But I don’t know if swaths of ocean can count as deserts. I complained to my teacher that the test was inaccurate. She told me to sit down and finish the test.

Mine was kinda like this. I had a professor for an agricultural science course who was fond of saying that the solution to almost any agricultural problem was to add organic material. Soil is too porous? Add Organic Material. Soil isn’t porous enough? Add Organic Material. Soil is too alkaline? Add Organic Material. Soil doesn’t have enough phosphorus? Add Organic Material. etc.

On the final, there were thirty multiple-choice questions. Six of them had one of two formats: either: “X is wrong with your soil. Which of the following is the best way to mitigate this problem?” or “X is wrong with your soil. Which of the following will NOT mitigate this problem?” Add Organic Material was an option in all six cases.

It was, of course, not a good way to mitigate the problem in any of the cases. I knew that, but his stupid mantra kept going through my head, and on several of the questions, I answered that Adding Organic Material would mitigate the problem.

After the course was over, I talked with him about that. He giggled like a schoolgirl at his cleverness.


If you live in the Arctic (Antarctic) circles, the Sun indeed can rise (or set) in the South or North…

IIRC someone once took the SAT, which penalizes you 1/4 point for each wrong answer, and
got the lowest possible raw score. To do this he would have to AVOID getting the correct
answers by random guessing-i.e. he would actually have to know most of the correct answers
anyway, and avoid those (tho typically there is one “brain dead” choice per question
which obviously stands out-I tutor SAT students BTW).

Well substitute something else for ‘moronic’

Say: ‘the action would result in an undesirable outcome given the stated objectives’

I guess you are trying to say that some things are very simple in the world of business - which I agree with - woods and trees, also blind men and elephants come to mind.