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Old 05 June 2008, 08:18 AM
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Tarquin Farquart Tarquin Farquart is offline
 
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Teacher The ten weirdest exam questions

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Students taking their finals in Cambridge last week were bemused to turn over their papers to find a question asking them to compare the poetry of Sir Walter Raleigh to the lyrics of Amy Winehouse.

Yet mischief-making by the examiners is not new. From the bafflingly unanswerable to the imponderably easy, we’ve gathered the quirkiest and weirdest exam questions we could lay our hands on.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif...cle4034471.ece
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  #2  
Old 05 June 2008, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Hang on - we had this thread yesterday but it seems to have vanished.

I mentioned the weirdest one I know of being "imagine life inside a ping pong ball" (I searched on Ping pong ball and couldn't find the thread)
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  #3  
Old 05 June 2008, 08:54 AM
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Tarquin Farquart Tarquin Farquart is offline
 
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Hang on - we had this thread yesterday but it seems to have vanished.
I thought it might have been (the article being a couple of days old) but a search found nothing.
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Old 05 June 2008, 09:45 AM
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Am I odd in not finding the Winehouse question odd at all? It seems perfectly legitimate, and a darn sight more interesting than rehashing tired comparissons that have been done countless times already.
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Old 05 June 2008, 09:47 AM
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Tarquin Farquart Tarquin Farquart is offline
 
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Am I odd in not finding the Winehouse question odd at all? It seems perfectly legitimate, and a darn sight more interesting than rehashing tired comparissons that have been done countless times already.
No I think it's a good question. These kind of "comment on unseen things" (it probably has a proper name) always have things like that in.
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Old 05 June 2008, 09:52 AM
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Am I odd in not finding the Winehouse question odd at all? It seems perfectly legitimate, and a darn sight more interesting than rehashing tired comparissons that have been done countless times already.
I don't see the fuss about the Amy Winehouse question either. Surely it gives the students more of a chance to demonstrate their own interpretive powers, especially since it was unexpected.

In my finals, for the New Testament paper one of the questions was a quotation from the faith zone exhibit at the Millennium Dome, about Jesus having died "tragically young". We were required to explain why a Christian would have a problem with that statement.
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Old 05 June 2008, 08:48 PM
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Add me into the people who don't get the fuss about the Winehouse question either. I remember my Composition teacher in high school teaching us Springsteen lyrics as examples of modern poetry.
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Old 05 June 2008, 08:50 PM
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The Winehouse question is only a valid question if the lyrics were provided. I would be seriously pissed off if I lost points in a class just because I wasn't familiar with a text that had no relation to the course material.

-Tabby
the princess with claws
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  #9  
Old 05 June 2008, 08:51 PM
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The Winehouse question is only a valid question if the lyrics were provided. I would be seriously pissed off if I lost points in a class just because I wasn't familiar with a text that had no relation to the course material.
They were included, that's the whole point, you have two texts you've never seen before on the exam paper and you have to compare them.
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Old 05 June 2008, 09:18 PM
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If that's the case then I have no beef with it. I was under the impression that the Raleigh poems were works the students were supposed to be familiar with from prior in-class exposure.

-Tabby
the princess with claws
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Old 05 June 2008, 09:24 PM
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In the 1960s I sat my 'Eleven Plus Exam' (a test to see which pupils were good enough to go to grammar school). There were always 'Odd One Out' questions. In a previous year a question was,

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Which is the odd one out: a cat, a dog, a television or a car?
The answer, of course, was cat - because you needed a licence for the others.
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Old 05 June 2008, 09:42 PM
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This may sound stupid - you needed a license to own a TV in the 60's??

LF
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  #13  
Old 05 June 2008, 09:46 PM
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Tarquin Farquart Tarquin Farquart is offline
 
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This may sound stupid - you needed a license to own a TV in the 60's??
You still do and have done since the 1940s, IIRC.
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  #14  
Old 05 June 2008, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
In the 1960s I sat my 'Eleven Plus Exam' (a test to see which pupils were good enough to go to grammar school). There were always 'Odd One Out' questions. In a previous year a question was,



The answer, of course, was cat - because you needed a licence for the others.
[hijack]One of the things I love about this board is how much of the difference between American English and English there actually is, as well as between the societies. To me, grammar school is the first school one goes to - if you had to take a test to get into that then things would be very strange. So I have learned that grammar school in the UK means something different, and will now seek out what exactly it means over there (college? High school?) I had already learned about the license fees that are charged from a previous thread here. Of course, before learning the answer I would never have made the connection, and I still wonder why you need a license for a dog but not a cat.[/hijack]

Anyway, now that I am done hijacking, I will address the topic at hand. I didn't necessarily think that most of the questions referred to were that bad. I am annoyed at the information Computer Technology question bit - when the guy quips "It's a test of whether you can count to five." Not being able to see the question makes it hard to tell for sure, but if it listed things in a table with multiple fields for each entry, then it is possible someone might not recognize which parts constitute a seperate entry.
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  #15  
Old 05 June 2008, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
In the 1960s I sat my 'Eleven Plus Exam' (a test to see which pupils were good enough to go to grammar school). There were always 'Odd One Out' questions. In a previous year a question was,



The answer, of course, was cat - because you needed a licence for the others.
1) Television, of course, because it doesn't move.

2) Television, of course, because the other three have 3 letters.

3) Dog, of course, because it's the only one that can help blind people.

4) Car, of course, because the other three don't have batteries in them.
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  #16  
Old 05 June 2008, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
In the 1960s I sat my 'Eleven Plus Exam' (a test to see which pupils were good enough to go to grammar school). There were always 'Odd One Out' questions. In a previous year a question was,



The answer, of course, was cat - because you needed a licence for the others.
Of course you need a licence for your pet cat. You get it from the man in the cat detector van from the Ministry of Housinge (it was spelled like that on the van)

Last edited by NorthernLite; 05 June 2008 at 10:53 PM. Reason: clarity
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  #17  
Old 05 June 2008, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Credence View Post
Anyway, now that I am done hijacking, I will address the topic at hand. I didn't necessarily think that most of the questions referred to were that bad. I am annoyed at the information Computer Technology question bit - when the guy quips "It's a test of whether you can count to five." Not being able to see the question makes it hard to tell for sure, but if it listed things in a table with multiple fields for each entry, then it is possible someone might not recognize which parts constitute a seperate entry.
Yeah, that annoyed me as well. It sounded like the question was one of interpretation, not one of the ability to count. Plus, there will always be a few easy questions in papers, as they are structured in such a way as to provide progression. Almost everyone will be able to gain the first few point on offer, after all, if you ran straight in with more difficult questions you risk panicing the less capable students, and the rest of the exam will not be a reflection of their abilities.
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  #18  
Old 05 June 2008, 11:20 PM
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I had a pop quiz a few weeks back and the question asked was "When you eat out at a nice restaurant which one do you go to and what do you order?" Luckily I got the answer right.


This was in my Environmental Science class.
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  #19  
Old 05 June 2008, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Credence View Post
So I have learned that grammar school in the UK means something different, and will now seek out what exactly it means over there (college? High school?)
In the past, people were split into two streams at the age of 11 - those who passed their 11-plus (which by a lot of accounts was a very silly exam) went to grammar school until the age of 16 or 18; those who failed it went to a secondary modern. (I think that was the other sort.)

That system went out quite a while ago - the two types of school were combined in the comprehensive, and even that term's out-of-date, I think. The 11-plus was abolished completely in 1976 according to Wikipedia, so Andrew's showing his age. (Wikipedia on the Eleven-plus - apparently there were three streams).

Quote:
I am annoyed at the information Computer Technology question bit - when the guy quips "It's a test of whether you can count to five." Not being able to see the question makes it hard to tell for sure, but if it listed things in a table with multiple fields for each entry, then it is possible someone might not recognize which parts constitute a seperate entry.
Me too - I'm guessing it was a table with five rows, but the guys at Computer Technology magazine are adults, who've learned what a database "record" is by being taught it. They may never have taken a GCSE in the subject, but this is an exam taken by 15- to 16- year olds with a wide range of abilities, and that question would probably have been the first, most basic part of a multi-part question on the given database. To criticize it on those grounds is absurd. It's almost like taking the piss out of a playgroup for teaching people to count to five, because "it's just counting to five".
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  #20  
Old 05 June 2008, 11:34 PM
Victoria J
 
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Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
The answer, of course, was cat - because you needed a licence for the others.
Well MapleLeaf beat me to it :

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Originally Posted by MapleLeaf View Post
1) Television, of course, because it doesn't move.
That would actually be my first thought - unless there was a specific context to the question.

Odd one outs are particularly poor at testing intelligence for this reason, they are however pretty good at testing the ability to work out the correct test answer. A true right answer should be any one you can justify.

Any one else (from the UK I assume) a fan of the Dead Ringers radio program (I liked them much less on TV) ? I'm thinking of them impersonating George Bush to telephone Sesame Street production offices and argue about the odd one out from 3 animals and a waffle iron...

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Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
You still do and have done since the 1940s, IIRC.
Dog licences are however no longer required (though some other animals considered dangerous require licenses).

My last rebellion against being a proper grown up was a continued refusal to get a TV licence. For all the threatening ads and letters suggesting advanced hi-tech scanning etc. they generally only managed to catch and fine people who answered the door to them.

I still have no license, but along the way I lost my TV (or at least the working functions of my TV) and now only watch DVD's and internet television.

The weird thing is that the system is based on them assuming everyone has a television. Having no license means you get harassed. Having no license and no TV also means you get harassed. As part of my now hollow rebellion I won't fill in the slip saying I haven't got a TV (and of course I can't be made to do so), but even where people do they've been known to insist on coming around and looking. (They can actually get court orders to do so).

My mother has a TV license and got harassed anyway because they didn't believe 78a blahblah road and flat A 78 blahblah road were the same thing. They continued to express disbelief while standing at the door of 78 blahblah road, clearly looking at the 2 doors to the flats and the bells marked A and B ...

Victoria J
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