The perfect exam paper

by Chris Bertram on June 7, 2008

I blogged this long ago and somewhere else, but the annual chore of assessing exam scripts has brought it back to mind. “Bill Pollard and Soran Reader at Durham devised this ideal exam”:——=_NextPart_000_00C2_01C32DDD.864384A0&T=text/html :

*Philosophy Exam – First Year*

Answer two questions

Two hours

1. Patch together some things you have heard in lectures, in no particular order.

2. Has this question vexed philosophers for centuries?

3. Create an impression of original thought by impassioned scribbling (your answer may be ungrammatical, illegible, or both).

4. Does the answer to this question depend on what you believe?

5. How much irrelevant historical background can you give before addressing this question?

6. Describe two opposing views, then say what you personally feel.

7. Rise above the fumbling efforts of others and speculate freely on an issue of your choice.


(a) Answer this question by announcing that it really means something different (and much easier to answer).


(b) Write out your answer to last year’s question on this topic.

9. Protest your convictions in the teeth of obvious and overwhelming objections.

10. Keep your reader guessing about what you think until the end. Then don’t tell them.

“Terrorist Fist Jab”

by Kieran Healy on June 7, 2008

Via Unfogged. I see an emerging trend:

1. Terrorist Fist Jab.
2. Black Power crypto blink.
3. Tendency to say “A glass of water, appease.”
4. Cracks knuckles-under.
5. “Whitey’s-on-the” moon.