Saturday, March 31, 2012

“F” in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers

It’s the day of the big test. You strut into the classroom with an air of confidence feeling like you rule the school. This test’s got nothin’ on you. You reach out to receive the sheet of paper and instead find yourself grasping a 10-page packet so thick the weak staple is barely binding them together. As your confidence diminishes, you draw a blank on the very first question. 

We've all been there. "F" in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers, by Richard Benson, illustrates real-life examples of the creative and humorous ways students have dealt with those especially challenging test questions. It is on the American Library Association's list for 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers and shows witty, albeit wrong, test answers in the subject areas of chemistry, physics, math, and English to name a few. When these students had no idea of the correct answer, they opted to have a little fun instead!

"F" in Exams is packed with clever gems like a student answering the biology question “What is the highest frequency noise that a human can register?” with “Mariah Carey” or another responding “cats” when asked what the main industry in Persia is. Another student’s creativity puts a whole new spin on doing a math problem:

This student obviously didn’t listen enough in physics class, but gets some points for humor: 

In my opinion, this is not a completely ideal book for teachers to assign students to read in class. Though I am sure it would be well-liked by many students, some may misunderstand its quirky and light-hearted manner as shining a positive light on doing poorly on tests. In an environment where some students already think its “cool” to flunk tests, this book would not be right for them. 

If this book were taught in schools, I would recommend assigning it with an equally engaging book like Study Smarter, Not Harder or showing the students a DVD like Test Taking without Fear. By providing practical tips and strategies on how to study successfully for tests, students can be shown how to not land themselves in a book like “F” in Exams! Let’s face it, no one wants to experience that moment of terror—the helpless feeling of being handed a whopping packet of test questions and having your brain feel like this.

Whether it's a first grade test on your ABC’s or your GRE to get into grad school, tests are a key element of everyone’s education experience. “F” in Exams is a fun and relatable book for anyone who’s had to struggle their way through an exam. While I believe assigning the book alone in the classroom without is not completely ideal, I still highly recommend it to students of all ages for a good laugh and a reminder to study for your tests.  


David Morrison said...

Thanks very much for the review, Sarah! Like you, I think I'd be surprised to find this as included curriculum in a high school English classroom. That being said, it seems like it'd be great as a book in our "classroom libraries". I'd like to incorporate some kind of independent reading time in my classroom, and this is something I'd recommend giving to a reluctant reader. It certainly doesn't have the depth or language of LFA or ON, but it's certainly good to have students read something.

Also, brava! on your incorporation of companion texts and DVDs. That was a very nice tough. Something I'll have to consider as I get into my reviews!

Sarah Rau said...

Thanks, David! You should look into pickin it up at a library for a quick and easy read. Gave me some good laughs.

Freddy in the Chi said...

This is unavoidable. I know when I was in high school, and maybe once or twice in undergrad, and couldn't recall the answer the teacher was looking for from me, I'd make up crazy things which could, in some way, connect to the question asked. I never received credit for these answers, but always received a smiley face from the teacher in appreciation of my creative abilities. I kind of look forward to answers like these when I start teaching.

Tom Philion said...

great review, sarah! the mariah carey answer made me laugh out loud (isn't the right answer wilson phillips, though? )

also, i love the suggestion to pair with a study strategy text. this would be perfect for kids in need of more learning support, and also i think it is very wise to remember that kids do get tired of the almost universal reverential tone toward tests and studying....pairing up a fun, humorous text with one that shares real useful (and hard0 strategies for studying might create the conditions where kids tune in more than tune out.

Tom Philion said...

PS: for others looking for model reviews, this is one!

Sarah Rau said...


Demitra said...

After I finished reading this review, the first thing I thought was where can I find this book and how soon can I start it! F in exams sounds like it is filled with hilariously wrong, yet creative, test answers. I love the examples you chose to highlight in your review; they really make me want to move on to reading the entire book. Hopefully, you are right and this book would remind you to study for exams rather than give you ideas of how to creatively flunk. Although, having the courage to try at least one of these out wouldn't be so bad either ;)

Cessacolypse said...

I usually find myself freaking out about tests, drawing various sad faces at certain mind-stumping questions, or getting mad at the questions and writing sentences that make my anger clear to the this book seems pretty excellent/relatable. Naturally, I cracked up reading this review. And I am definitely picking this up today.

amykate208 said...

I loved this review. I want to read this book very badly because I can relate!!! I'm not much of a science or math person and when I took a mandatory chemistry class in high school I would do silly stuff like this on the tests all the time! When i wouldn't know an answer I would write fun facts such as, did you know a jaguar can carry 8 times it's body weight up into a tree? And the funny part is, sometimes my teacher (bless his heart) would actually give me points for my silly little snippets. Although it was probably out of pity.