Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quiz That Changed My Thinking

When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher handed out a quiz that was encyclopedic in size. My eyes widened as fear engulfed me. Hearing, "You have one hour to complete this test" threw me into a state of apoplexy. How dare she give us this monster test without first warning us or at least preparing us for this kind of torture!

We were not allowed to open the monstrosity until after we heard her instructions: "What you see before you is a quiz with 100 questions. You are to read the quiz first – all the way through – before you write down any of the answers. After you complete the quiz, you will put your pencils down. You have one hour."

ONE HOUR!! Was she crazy? And we had to read it first? BEFORE we could start writing? 100 questions? What kind of sadist punishes her students this way?

The entire class opened the test and started reading the questions, but as time went by, the clock's hands whirled at a frantic pace, and the pressure of having to read and answer 100 questions within the time frame allotted bordered on the absurd.

Most of us started writing without completing the reading portion of the quiz. Some of the questions were easy. Some were very difficult. They ranged from questions about grammar to geography to math – every class we attended included questions from each subject.

Like most students, I rushed through the quiz until I got to the command that stated, "When you get to this question, bark like a dog."

What? I was very quiet back then. No way was I going to bark out loud. Other equally silly requests commanded us to perform tasks that were outside my comfort zone. Others barked. I remained silent.

The hands on the clock pounded each second as it raced through the hour. My hand couldn't write any faster. My brain couldn't function anymore.

Then – what is happening? I see a guy put his pencil down. Oh no! I'm only on question 38. Well, he was the smartest kid in the class. Soon a couple more people put their pencils down. I started to sweat. The hour passed and we heard the command, "Put your pencils down."

The torture continued. "Who read all the questions first?" our teacher asked. I could feel the heat vaporize on my skin as I suddenly turned into the color of a beet. Only a few people raised their hands.

"Well, then," she smiled, "I want the rest of you to go to number 99 and read it."

Number 99 read, "If you've gotten this far, put your pencil down, and sit back. You have successfully completed this quiz."

In other words, "You have passed. You followed the instructions."

Or in these words – the way I understood number 99 to read, "Look at all the morons sitting next to you who are maniacally trying to finish this test. Smile. Relax. You are not one of them."

And it was that simple. The quiz was not about completing all of the questions or knowing all of the answers. It was about following instructions.

All these many years later, I remember that important lesson.

And that completes Day #17 from the A-Z Challenge. Brought to you by the letter, Q. 

Previous A-Z Challenge blogs:

Amazon Hates Me – Day #1 from the A-Z Challenge

Bored – Why? – Day #2 from the A-Z Challenge

Craziness – Day #3 from the A-Z Challenge

When Your Daughter Develops, DON'T DO THIS! – Day #4 from the A-Z Challenge

Ellen – Day #5 from the A-Z Challenge

Family and Friends – Day #6 from the A-Z Challenge

The Grownup Table – Day #7 from the A-Z Challenge

Happiness & Joy – Day #8 from the A-Z Challenge

Idiots in the Attic – Day #9 from the A-Z Challenge

Jokes Accidentally – Day #10 from the A-Z Challenge

The Kid That Wasn't Named Ker – Day #11 from the A-Z Challenge

Living Out of Suitcases – Day #12 from the A-Z Challenge

Misunderstandings – I KNOW You Didn't Say What I THINK You Said

Networked Blogs on Facebook

The Old and The Elderly – At What Age Do You FEEL Old?

Peacocks Are Not Penguins


  1. Wow. That was a sadistic test. I understand the lesson but did she really have to send the class into such a panic to do it?

  2. That's really creative, if not a bit mean. lol

  3. That is a really smart teacher. I've taken surveys and quizzes with similar purposes. Students have to learn to follow directions. If not, they'll never succeed.

  4. a little bit on the mean side, but very creative teacher! she would have gotten the lesson into my head
    Happy Q day!

  5. Smart teacher!

    My A-Z Blogging “Q” post is right here:

  6. My 6th grade teacher gave our class a very similar quiz! I remember when some students got to the part that said, 'when you reach this question...say aloud 'I am the first person to this question...' very much like the 'bark like a dog' instructions. Thanks for the memory!