Thursday, May 2, 2013

Exam Instructions

Dear students,

As you are aware, you received an exam booklet and an answer sheet.  You also recall that I told you that I don't grade anything in the exam booklet, I only grade the answer sheet.  Your final exam was labeled "Version 1" or "Version 2", depending on whether it was version 1 or version 2, respectively.  Your answer sheet contained the instructions, "Circle the version of the exam you are taking."  Immediately below those instructions was written:

                         Version 1                                     Version 2

Therefore, I stressed that it's really God damn important that you circle the right version of the exam so that I know which key to use when I grade it.

One of you idiots received version 1 of the exam.  That idiot circled "Version 1" but he circled "Version 1" that was printed ON THE MOTHERFUCKING EXAM AND NOT ON THE MOTHERFUCKING ANSWER SHEET.

Your tuition is not high enough to cover the amount of alcohol you make me drink.


  1. I had something like that happen about 20 years ago. For the final exam in a course I taught, I specifically stated on the front page something like: "Do any 3 of the 4 exam questions." I believe I capitalized everything and put it in bold font, so it was pretty hard to miss.

    Sure enough, somebody thought he would do all 4. I wouldn't have penalized him for doing so but I would have counted only the best 3 results for the exam grade.

    It didn't do him much good. He did poorly and complained about it afterwards. If I recall correctly, he claimed he didn't see the "3 out of 4" requirement and, because he thought he had to do all 4, didn't have enough time to do a proper job. Guess who was blamed? Oddly enough, he was the only one who had that problem.

    I went on a year's academic leave when the term ended and stopped by a few months later for a quick visit. I was chatting with some of my colleagues when the kid just happened to pass by only to stop and continue whining how it was *my* fault he missed being on the honour roll.

    He had an enormously high opinion of his academic abilities. He figured that once he finished at our institution, he'd attend university, no doubt acing everything. I have no idea what happened to him after he graduated, but for all I know, he may have been accepted. I think, though, he quickly found out that he was nowhere close to being the genius he believed he was.

    1. When that happens to me I just grade the first three and ignore the 4th.

  2. Instructions: Enter either version 1 OR version 2 on your scantron. The test version can be found at the bottom of your test.

    Scantron from THREE students include their names, course number, test number, date AND
    "version 1 OR version 2".

  3. Here at the Dept of Hamsterology at R-1 University in Far Flung Former Colony, we KNOW today's students can be shall we say "challenged" when following instructions. So our administrator always checks the answer sheets before sending them to the central testing office for grading. She then emails the relevant students (assuming they actually remember to put their names on the sheet) to ask them which version code they had.

    One guy insists that he threw away his test questions and cant remember his version code (and get this, we have a pink test and a blue test, i.e. a different color for each version code). 12 hours after his test, HE CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT COLOR IT WAS!!! He suggested we grade the test using BOTH KEYS, to see which grade was higher. Yeah, nice dream but sorry, no can do, just call me "Dream-Killer"

  4. I make four versions to help prevent cheating and also have some subtle clue on the answer sheet to let me know what version of the exam the student had.

    Once you have enough students writing the exam, it is a near certainty that someone will not be able to enter the correct version on the answer sheet.

  5. I frequently (read: nearly every semester) give tests that have some version of "Answer X of Y Questions in this section" instructions on them. I always tell the students that I will only grade the first X questions answered and stop, even if some of the ones graded are worth few or no points, so just answering them all won't help any. Every semester, someone answers them all. Every time I've had a chance to speak to one of these students, the kid lets me know that he or she answered all the questions on the assumption that I would take the X best answers of the Y questions.

    And every time I say, "Well, if you can't follow simple instructions given both verbally and in writing not five minutes before you start a task, you will find the workplace intensely challenging."

    And every time I want to add, "Consider a career as a medical test subject or homeless person."

    1. Nah. That would be too challenging for someone like that. A professional doorstop or speed bump would make better use of such talents.