Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Worst Multiple Choice Exam In The World

And as it was promised, so it came to pass.

It, in this case, happens to be THE WORST MULTIPLE CHOICE EXAM IN THE WORLD. I have a collection of empirical data to back up this claim, but seem to have put it down somewhere and can't locate it right at this moment.

Anyhow. As you cast your incredulous eyes over the sea of bollocks below (imagine that. A whole sea of bollocks. Bobbing gently as the tide goes out), I ask you to bear in mind that this multiple choice test was written and administered by an academic.

By a human who is employed to teach other humans things.

At the higher education level.

You may laugh at the outrageousness of it all. But I ask you also to bear in mind: people –hard-working, diligent students, eager to learn and further their journey along the route to enlightenment – had to answer these questions. And were going to be marked according to their answers. And that this mark would contribute to their grade. And that their grade would potentially determine (to whatever degree) THEIR WHOLE FUTURE.

Ay, there's the rub.

Anyhow, I could've reproduced the whole lamentable exam (which was leaked by an unnamed source intimately involved in the scandal) – so uniform was it in its shoddiness. However, in the interest of conciseness (a speciality, as you will have gathered, of the Intellectual Hooligan), I shall instead guide you through its especially grueling portions.

Let's kick off with question 3:

A visionary perspective of the future of [the company in question] has drove its success towards the "Australian Phenomenon". Is this True or False?
a. True
b. False

Okay. Hold it right there. I'm not even going to dwell on 'drove'. Instead I'm going to ask: with what mystical powers of divination is one supposed to be endowed in order to answer this question? 'A visionary perspective of the future'? Trying to make the words in that phrase make any kind of sense is like trying simultaneously to dunk three floating turds with the use of only a single chopstick. (Sorry, I'm a little preoccupied by scatological bobbing imagery today. Excuse me.)

And even if you are able to fathom what a visionary perspective of the future might be, how the hell are you meant to know if somebody had one, let alone whether or not it drove anything?

I'm not even going to ask who True and False are. But they're very nice names.

Instead, swallowing our bile and mustering composure, we'll skip onto question 8:

8. Which of the following characteristics demonstrated by the Wheelers are considered entrepreneurial?
a. When they travelled across Europe and Asia to Australia
b. When they decided to write a travel guide following their trip
c. When they sought to expand the company portfolio to grow the company
d. When they sold copies for two dollars door to door and through various bookstores

'Considered entrepreneurial'? By whom, exactly? By the questioner? By you? By themselves? By God? (I reckon it's God, for the record. God would be great on 'Dragon's Den'. They should do that). I also adore the way in which the elegant construction 'When they...' is employed, seamlessly, in a spirit of linguistic pellucidity the like of which (we may surmise) has illuminated the work of the great prose masters throughout the history of the written word.

Question 9?

Maureen ceased to be an entrepreneur when she believed 'Lonely Planet'; couldnt support her family and she opted for a degree in social work. Is this True or False?
a. True
b. False

Maureen, you have ceased to be an entrepreneur. Do not pass Go. Do not collect the following characteristic: 'when you are an entrepreneur'.

Nice semicolon, by the way. Most people don't know how to use semicolons properly. But the trick is just to be confident about it, and it'll all turn out fine. Trust your instincts.

But let's not get bogged down in this airy fairy stuff. Question 14 gets down to brass tacks.

The introduction of the second book to the series was as a direct result of the financial gain from the success of "Across Asia on the Cheap" as opposed to entrepreneurial desire. Is this True or False?
a. True
b. False

So we now have a choice between two diametrical opposites. On the one side we have 'reacting to past financial success by introducing followup' and on the other end is 'entrepreneurial desire'. That makes a lot of sense, now that I've got it sorted out in my head. For a minute there I was getting confused (silly me) because I had an aberrant thought that entrepreneurial desire might be something to do with wanting to cash in on successful products.

But now I understand.

The climax, in any case, is yet to come. Like the closing ensemble number of a big-stage musical, Question 17 is a veritable medley of delights in which the hits just keep on coming.

The company originated for which of the following reasons:
a. No other travel guides have been produced in 1972
b. At this point nobody travelled to different countries
c. Existing guides didnt offer practical advice for those travelling on a budget
d. Noone understood fully other country culture
e. Maureen and Tony had nothing else to do on return from travelling
f. Financially they had to develop a business idea that would succeed in order to survive
g. Cause they wanted to develop a company of their own and watch it grow

The first sign that we're in for a treat is the use of the verb 'originated'. I was disappointed not to have options h, i and j listed:

h. Evolution
i. Big Bang or other creation theorem
j. Cartesian first principles

I mean, guys, how far are we tracing this thing back? But, nitpicking aside, let's sit back and admire some of these gems. I particularly like option d, which offers a delicately-poised satire on international miscommunication and linguistic barriers by SOUNDING LIKE IT'S BEEN TWICE REGURGITATED BY AN AUTO-TRANSLATOR.

I also admire the optimism inherent in option a, in which we consider the possibility that, though no other travel guides have yet been produced in 1972, there's still time, eh?

Then, in option f, we return to Darwinian mediations, as we consider the contribution of successful business ideas to survival. Would Maureen and Tony have survived (we ask ourselves) had they come up with an unsuccessful business idea? Or if they had come up with a successful non-business idea? I am sure we will all agree that, no, they would not. No indeed, no.

They would of been ded meet.

And I'll tell you what I particularly like about the elevated academic behind this masterful piece of spiritual/philosophical enquiry masquerading as business investigation. I particularly like that fact that – though he has amply demonstrated his mastery of the written word, his stylistic flair, his syntactical virtuosity – he nevertheless gives his lofty words The Common Touch, with a Joycean mastery of colloquial English. Ladies and gentlemen, let's close with a round of applause (dare I propose an ovation?) for option g.

Cause they wanted to develop a company of their own and watch it grow.

Reader, I tell you: I could not have put it better myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the wittiest things I've ever read. Thank you!!

Related posts