Failed Test | June 7, 2011

I read comments on the internet. I know, it’s stupid, I don’t know why I do it. At best you read a comment that agrees with your views, at worst, and quite often, you wish the internet was less user friendly.

However, I’ve just read a comment that’s quite entertaining, simply because of how proud the writer appears to be, despite the wealth of prior comments detailing exactly why the the poster is slightly off the mark.

The background is this: In the UK there was a maths exam paper in which there was an impossible to answer question. I’ll let the BBC do the hard work of giving you more detail.

Obviously, this is a problem – not only is a trusted examination board clearly not even bothering to test its papers, but students became trapped trying to answer the question, pouring away time on something that couldn’t get them any points. Students are quite rightly distraught, and there were many comments from students and friends, detailing how much time they wasted. The examination board has said that no one will be disadvantaged by this question, but given that they weren’t smart enough to have an answerable question on the paper, I doubt they’ll be smart enough to come up with a way to offset a variable amount of time wasted with bonus marks. Besides, who wants the surgeon that left their tools in you during the first operation going back in the second time to get them out.

Into this mix comes Dave from Bridgend. Dave is a man of genius, a man with a solution to anything. He suggests:

“Can’t see what the fuss is all about. The question is worth eight points from a potential 72. Don’t re-run the test, ignore the question and mark the paper out of 64. It’s basic maths, not rocket science, although some people do like making life needlessly difficult.”

Given Dave’s Solomon-like wisdom I look forward to searching for other comments he may have posted. Politicians and scientists should do the same, imagine the difficult problems you’ve been over-thinking all this time! Let Dave put you on the right track with all kinds of things, such as: Quantum Gravity, The Middle East, Fusion Energy, Poverty, Racial Tension and Global Warming.

I hope Dave’s a real person. Perhaps he has a blog…




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