call for contributions / on examinations

I interrupt my exam marking for a newsflash from our Special Foreign Correspondent, who passes on the following, that may be of interest to anyone else who has ever marked a piece of work.

Any of my current students reading this, rest assured: so far, no bloopers worthy of publication; were there to be any, they would only ever be discussed with third parties anonymously.

—–Original Message—–
From: Caryn M. Berg [mailto:archaeology@LCOASTPRESS.COM]
Sent: 11 December 2009 05:42
Subject: Bloopers needed for upcoming book….

College student bloopers are needed, for a book to be published by Mitch Allen and Left Coast Press.  Any and all areas desired: history, archaeology, English, science, etc.  Bloopers already collected from student essays, exams, and research papers include gems such as

The Israelites…wondered in the dessert for 40 years.

Please send via email to Eric Cline at  Please also include a statement giving express permission to include the bloopers in the book.  Students should not be named, nor will you be except in a general acknowledgements section.
Apologies in advance for cross-listing; please feel free to forward this message.

Caryn M. Berg, Ph.D.
Marketing, Archaeology
Left Coast Press

Join Left Coast Press online or on Twitter.

I thought it was time for a bit of a Google image search. This one, for “medieval exam.”

I spare the sensitive reader some of the top hits for the search, which were pretty (mainly 15th c.) woodcuts of medieval medical examinations, complete with floating cushions, crabs, and brave men of science cutting off their own trousers.

I also spare the reader the myriad lists of Medieval Studies courses, exam timetables, and pretty pictures of students taking exams in giant chilly-looking halls. The latter surely sends shivers up every spine. A good test, indeed, were we to be taken over by aliens, to tell the humans apart.

Onto some exam bloopers, then, with some Medieval pertinence:

(from The Unlikely Professor: Music, Motorcycles, and the Search for Balance)

Some further classics—Abelard would be proud:

(all from The Curious Case of Benjamin Ren)

And the following all-time exam classic—Averroes/Ibn Rushd would be proud:

Seen various places online, main and earliest source would appear to be the post Exam Prep FAIL (16 November 2009) over at Doug Ross @ Journal – 75% snark-free diatribes on politics, technology and security.
Medievally- and Medievalismally-speaking, note that the smart solution deploys the same reasoning and methodological approach taken by Medieval etymologies, herbals, assorted treatises, and so on.

Image at top of post: St Thomas Aquinas Confounding Averroës. Giovanni di Paolo. Tempera and gold leaf panel, c. 1445-50. Saint Louis Art Museum.

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