A High-Stakes Test

Questions and Answers by Members of Class 11.C1
Corrections, Comments, and Scoring by Diana Senechal

This test is extremely serious. For each question, there are right and wrong answers, as well as partially correct answers and negatively correct answers. You will be graded not only on your accuracy, but on the thoroughness and adventurousness of your explanations (unless the question is multiple-choice, in which case you need only be right). Do your best, check your work, and have fun, bearing in mind that the results will determine your future!


  1. Did you read this question?
    a. Yes    b. Definitely    c. No, but I’m lying

(b) is correct for reasons that should be self-evident.

  • What is this?
    a. No, what is not this.    b. Yes, what is this.    c. Is this what?

(c) is correct because it clarifies the original question.

  • What is fake pasta? Explain.

“An impasta” is not a correct response, because this is an old joke. Acceptable answers include: “Fake pasta is pasta that has been declared fake by the International Linguini Society”; “Fake pasta is a tasty and vile thing”; and “Fake pasta is the kind your competitors make, if you are a pasta company; and the kind that your benighted friends eat, if you are a pasta connoisseur.”

OFFICIAL TEST (COMPLETED): Questions in green, student answers in blue, and grader comments in red.

1. What are some fun and interesting alternatives to war that countries could use to settle their differences?

  • laser tag
  • Uno card game
  • epic rap battles

First of all, your use of bullet points shows your mastery of 21st century skills. Second, your answers are fun, fun, fun! We really think they would work. People could even choose their activities. The testing committee would just add “beatboxing” as a subcategory of the epic rap battles. Because you did not think of this yourself, you only get 7 out of 10 points for your answer. Next time, remember to read the collective mind of the test-makers.

2. If your room’s walls could really talk, what would they say? Provide a sample of their speech in 2-3 sentences.

Please, for the love of God, open the windows now and then, trust me, it is really smelly in here. And what about all this stuff on the floor? Calling this room a pigsty is an understatement.

Incorrect, though clever. We often project our own feelings and conscience into our walls (and into everything imaginable, for that matter), but walls have reasons of which reason does not know. That last sentence is an altered quote of Blaise Pascal, who is well worth reading. Because you put some thought into your answer, and gave the testing committee an opportunity to recommend something for your betterment, you receive 2 out of 10 points.

3. Chooose the correct synonym of improvement.

            a. upturn b. progress c. betterment d. chocolate

Of course! The idea that anyone could think differently is bizarre. 5 out of 5 points.

4. Do you believe in the existence of birds? Why or why not?

I surely do believe in the existence of birds, as I can see them and, most annoyingly, hear them, especially in the morning sometimes when I am trying to have a little rest after sleep. But of course I cannot prove this, as all I can experience is the conversation or singing of birds or whatever you would like to call it.

You have distinguished between belief and proof; this will serve you well in life. 14 out of 15 points. (One point was deducted for using the word “you” in your answer. Sometimes this is acceptable, sometimes not. The difference is too complicated to explain.)

5. Please explain the meaning of life in no more than two sentences.

Life is a period of time in which childhood is the free trial and later the taxes are the monthly subscriptions to your country.

True, painfully true, but this is a negatively correct answer, of which you were previously warned in the instructions. For this response you receive NEGATIVE 10 out of 10 points.

6. There is a class of 30 people. One-fifth of them are boys and at least one-eighth of them are girls. Fifteen of them like maths, eighteen love history, and 30% of them love physics. If the teacher is 34 years old, what would you name your pet giraffe? Please give a full explanation of your response.

I would name him Bob because it is made up of 3 letters, which is the first digit of 30. Bob is an oftenly used name in physics and math tasks. As far as I know, there are a lot of thirty-something-aged people whose name is Bob.

You have arrived at the only logical answer to this question. 10 out of 10 points. In addition, you receive a free listen to a special song: “Bob” by Ed’s Redeeming Qualities.

7. What is your honest opinion about Tik Tok, if you even know what it is? Extra points awarded for speaking from ignorance. Show persuasively that you have no idea what you are talking about.

I actually know what I am talking about, and I can clearly state that tiktok is a nuisance and, as any nuisance, it should be burned in holy fire. It is a cancer that must be mercilessly and ultimately destroyed, and every record of it should be hidden from the world so it may be forgotten forever, as it should be.

Your speech is impassioned, yet you failed to demonstrate ignorance. 5 out of 10 points.

8. What is the biggest lie in the world? Please explain your reasoning.

The biggest lie in the world is the word “lie” itself. Because if you say you lie, it means you aren’t lying,  but if you aren’t lying and you said you lied, then you lied, which means you are a liar who isn’t lying but still is.

You not only receive 8 out of 10 points (2 points taken off because 2 members of the examining committee had to take a coffee break in the middle of your second sentence) but also receive a summer internship working on the New Revised Edition of the International Philosophical Dictionary (which does not yet exist, but will soon).

9. If you try to fail, and you succeed, what have you done? Please explain your reasoning.

You might have sat in the wrong class, or, the more obvious one, your future self might have come back and talked to your subconscious, and explained that if you fail you will end up as a successful lawyer, then your subconscious panicked and studied all the material, to save you from the huge responsibility of being famous.

Unfortunately, you are already famous, since your answer will be used as a model response in next year’s test. 12 out of 10 points.

10. Write something impressive in no more than three sentences.

I was the defensive player of the year and the most valuable player in the same year. Then, due to an injury, I had to give up basketball.

According to our precise calculation, you accomplished this impressive statement in fewer than three sentences; for your economy of language, as well as the impressive feats conveyed therein, you receive 10 out of 10 points.

Extra credit:

1. If two mind-readers read each other’s minds, whose minds are they reading? Explain.

It is impossible to think of nothing, so the firstly mind-read one’s thoughts will be thought by the other one, and when the firstly mind-read one starts to read the mind of the first mind-reader, he will start to think of the same thing as he did before that.

Does mind-reading occur in time (as opposed to being instantaneous)? If so, you are right, but you need to establish this. 5 out of 10 points.

2. Is the world unknowingly starting to understand why pets try to run outside when we open the door?

Man, you have now been in quarantine for one month, and you are sick of being inside, and your pets are in quarantine since they know themselves. So answering your question, yes, it is.

You receive full credit for “keeping it real” and for using “Man” in two senses of the word: the colloquial “man” (as in “man, I’m tired”) and “man” as humanity (as in Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is man!”). 10 out of 10 points.

Results: Had it not been for the extra credit, you would have received 58 out of 100 points, which by emelt érettségi standards would be a pitiable 4. However, with the 15 additional points, you receive 73 points, which is a 5. Your future is assured; although this test does not count for anything official and is not recognized by any university anywhere in the world, it may have given you valuable experience and exercise. If so, congratulations, and have a good day!