5 Hilariously Ridiculous Standardized Test Questions

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Full disclosure: None of these questions are from actual standardized tests (SATs, ACTs, PSATs, PACTs, SPACTs, etc.) as sharing test questions from administered and unreleased tests is punishable by a fine of $250,000 and a six-month minimum sentence in Guantanamo Bay. Thus, all the questions that appear below are instead from published test-prep books sold by various test-prep companies, modified slightly (changed names, etc).

Standardized testing is a charged topic. People as high-ranking as the Department of Education’s (DoE) assistant undersecretary to the undersecretary’s assistant (AUUA) regularly examine topics such as: do standardized tests cost too much? Are they truly standardized? Do they cover proper material? Do they make me look fat? Is their sodium content too high? Are the Russians using them to corrupt our youth? Are our youth already corrupted beyond hope? If so, are the standardized tests corrupt enough for our youth?

As you probably know, I wake up every day thinking about things not even closely related to the important questions I just mentioned. Thus, I am quite qualified to weigh in on these contentious concepts, as illustrated by the fact that I just used some spiffy and awesome alliteration. (Frankly, if you can alliterate or, better yet, are an alliteration, you are instantly seen as a leader. For example: Ronald Reagan, Woodrow Wilson, Peter Piper (the pickled peppers picker), Winston Wchurchill, Steve Sjobs, John Jf Jkennedy, etc.).

But since the standardized test debate encompasses a plethora (hey, SAT word) of topics, and we could analyze each topic for many blog posts worth of time, let’s take just one of these ideas: Do they cover proper material? More specifically, do standardized test questions actually cover stuff (another SAT word) that might come up in the real world?

Maybe some questions do. I’m sure a strong argument can be made for knowing things like the x-y formula for a circle. (The strong counter argument is, of course, Google). But sometimes test question writers get a little carried away, because they know you have to take the test regardless of whether the passage’s main character’s name is Mary Ann or Djickovanitchstrewloquesky. And when they get ahead of themselves, you end up with questions like these.

George, the Media Intern

The question is:

14. George works as a media intern and receives a monthly paycheck. He spends 25% of his paycheck on rent and deposits the remainder into a savings account. If his deposit is $3,750, how much does he receive as his monthly pay?

a) $4,000
b) $5,000
c) $5,500
d) $5,750
e) $6,000

Let’s take this step-by-step. First of all, George is a media intern. Interns don’t get paid, according to “that’s how real life works.” Interns are just below the water cooler on the office totem pole. If one of them failed to show up for the day, the cooler would be missed much more. In other words, until the water cooler gets an employer-provided health insurance package and monthly stipend, the intern isn’t getting paid either.

But let’s assume, for a second, that interns do get paid. Perhaps they do, in some places; maybe Luxembourg, the richest country (per capita, which means not as rich overall as the US of A!) pays the five media interns that essentially run the single national news organization for the 500,000-person company. They probably don’t even have a news station, just a stock ticker, but, if they did, they could afford to pay the interns (the national motto is: Luxembourg: even the name sounds luxurious). Would an intern really spend 25% of their paycheck on rent, and then put the rest into a savings account?

In case you have any doubts as to where that rhetorical question is going, the answer is NO. No, because most media interns are not yet old enough to realize the benefits of saving 75% of their paycheck. No, because interns have other expenses than rent—they probably need food, transportation, and, depending on how they’re treated at the office, therapy. No, because interns will invariably have trillions (per capita) in student debt to pay off.

Now, I connect to the writer of this question. I know what he meant to ask: 75% of what number is $3,750?

But did they really need to make up a whole story about a fictional place with a fictional intern who gets a fictional paycheck to pay his fictional rent? All that does is distract me from the math and cause me to ponder just how removed from reality test-question-writers are. This is a ridiculous question.

Andrea, the Graphing Freak

Here’s a math question more off-the-charts than Anthony Wiener:

38. Andrea decides to graph her office and the nearest coffee shop in the standard (x,y) plane. If her office is at point (-1,-5) and the coffee shop is at point (3,3), what are the coordinates of the point exactly halfway between those of her office and the shop? (You may assume Andrea is able to walk a straight line between.)

A) (1,-1)
B) (1,5)
C) (2,-1)
D) (3,4)
E) (2,0)

Andrea—I don’t even know where to begin. This question has major believability issues.

To start with, “Andrea decides to graph her office and the nearest coffee shop in the standard (x,y) plane.” What kind of job does Andrea have that graphing her office and nearby café sounds appealing? The only job I can come up with is that of media intern, in which case, Andrea doesn’t have any money for coffee, since she either doesn’t get paid or saved all of her paycheck (she doesn’t even need to pay rent, she just rooms with George). Actually, ignore the job; what kind of person—a coffee-deprived one, no less—gets directions by using coordinate graphs? That’s so 16th century!

And where is Andrea’s boss? I mean, wouldn’t he/she notice if Andrea suddenly stopped answering the customer service phones and pulled out a ruler and graph paper? Am I supposed to believe the boss encourages this sort of thing as stress relief or a team-building activity?

Getting past the fact that Andrea is graphing her office and the nearest coffee shop, why doesn’t Andrea make her life easier by putting either the coffee shop or her office at (0,0)? I mean, I’m not the type of person to plot the location of my house and my school, but if I was, I like to think that I’d make it as easy as possible to do by putting one of the points at the origin. What is up with Andrea? The only thing I can think of is that her office address is literally the corner of -1 Street and -5 Avenue.

Finally (ignoring the fact that Andrea, for some inexplicable reason, wants to know how far the halfway point is), I “may assume Andrea is able to walk a straight line between”? I don’t think so; no, I don’t think I can assume that. So, Andrea can just walk through walls. What kind of “skill” am I really learning by taking this test—the fact that I shouldn’t bother to cross streets at the cross walk, but just walk a straight line between?

Please, test writers, I beg of you: don’t do this. Just ask “what is the midpoint of the segment from (-1,-5) to (3,3)?” Sure, your added explanation may be hilarious in retrospect, but during the test we’re just going to be stressed and annoyed. This question is ludicrous.

The Unethical Senator

Speaking of Anthony Wiener:

3. Although the senator has been involved in unethical behavior, her constituents continue to show strong support for her.

A) has been involved
B) involved
C) being as involved
D) has yet to be involved
E) is involving

Hopefully, you’ve figured out what’s wrong with this one: the “unethical” senator is a woman. According to the Wikipedia list of political scandals in the US (which is, by no means, the most reliable source, but—let’s face it—the only source any of us would take the time to quickly scan for the sake of a humor blog post) the last “sort-of” political scandal that befell a female was Representative Helen Chenoweth-Hage, back in 1998. Putting that in perspective, that’s about 1 female scandal for every 5,000 male scandals (I didn’t even need to go to Wikipedia to make that up, I just pulled that number from George’s salary). And—it gets better—it wasn’t even really a scandal: she just admitted that she’d had an affair before running for Congress.

Therefore, while the correct answer might be “A,” the best answer is “D.” Sure, technically the “although” wouldn’t make any sense, but what’s more important: getting the facts right or lying with proper grammar?

Winning the Race

The question:

26. Regardless of which person wins the race, they will have earned the victory. No Error

I think we’ve just discovered why doping is so prevalent in sports. Most college-recruited athletes have to take the SAT or ACT. So, is it really their fault that they don’t know any better than to fill their muscles full of unnaturally occurring chemicals*?

*That probably come with warning labels such as: “WARNING: Do not swallow. This compound is illegal in 49 states and unlawful to possess in the remaining 1. If you were to use this, it might allow you to beat all the competition, but you shouldn’t use this for some reason. Okay, the FDA has stopped reading by now—go ahead, take twice a day with food.”

According to this question, as long as they win, they will have earned that win, gosh darn it. No wonder Lance Armstrong was so indignant when his scandal broke—he should have just entered this as evidence in his hearing and he would have gone from intentionally doping to the much less evil charge of easy to influence.

If we’re going to make kids take these tests, let’s at least make the error the part about “earning” the victory. We should scrap most the second part of the sentence and make it, “Regardless of which person wins the race, he will have won.” I think that’s obvious enough for your stereotypical jock. Sure, they’ll still use steroids, but at least they won’t be so indignant about the consequences, since they’ll know they didn’t earn those titles.

Laura and Ben

We’ll end it with an easy one:

15. Laura wanted to go out to the movies that night, and so her friend Ben wanted to stay home and study. No Error

I’m sure that by now you’ve already figured out the numerous errors. First of all, when a girl asks you to go to the movies, you don’t say, “Nahh, I’d rather stay home and study.”

If you do that, you will probably never get asked to the movies for the rest of your high school life. And, if she tweets about it, you can prepare to remain a bachelor for at least ten years past the date of your death. The only time you’re allowed to reply this way is if the girl has been involved in unethical behavior, uses steroids, or wants to plot the coordinates of the location of your seats in regards to the movie screen.

Secondly, nobody wants to just “study.” Yes, the pursuit of knowledge is noble, but the writer doesn’t elaborate. Ben isn’t studying something he’s incredibly interested in or motivated to teach himself, nor does Ben have a big test tomorrow. Thus, although there are exceptions when one should study rather than go to the movies, this doesn’t appear to be one of them.

The third issue here is the sentence is in past tense. Somehow, in some fictitious world, even after Ben turned down Laura so he could study, they are still friends. To correct this, the writer should have written “ex-friend,” “used-to-be friend,” or “…her friend Ben, who’s now at the bottom of the lake (weighed down by the biology textbook tied to his feet), wanted…”

The Message

Standardized tests are an unavoidable part of high school, but that doesn’t mean the questions need to be based in worlds more fictitious than Miley Cyrus’ good judgment. For some reason, I just don’t think most people go into the testing rooms relaxed and ready to be entertained. Besides, if you do laugh while the test is being administered, that’s punishable by a $5,000 fine, a felony charge, and being forced to eat your #2 pencils.

But if you’re more worried about buying #2 pencils than eating them, you may want to check out, “3 Reasons Back to School Shopping is Not Your Friend,”published this time last year. Even if you don’t care about shopping, the image on that post is worth checking out.

Wisdom Teeth are Not Your Friend

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Thankfully, I am. Which is why I bring you a rant that’s certain to cheer up any post-surgery teen.

(Warning: Laughing soon after wisdom teeth surgery is painful, and could lead to dry sockets. As I understand them, dry sockets are pretty much worse than the surgery.

Luckily I avoided them—using one easy tip discovered by a local stay-at-home mom that doctors HATE—but they supposedly feel like a throbbing pain, similar to the recovery of being shot in the mouth. Of course, I’ve never been shot in the mouth—I avoid that using one crazy trick discovered by a local stay-at-home dad that surgeons HATE—but since you’re probably too zonked out on pain meds to come up with any similes for your pain, I did it for you. You’re welcome).

Now, wisdom teeth surgery is not a fun surgery to have. Things that should not mix include: power tools and mouths, blades and mouths, pliers and mouths, others people’s fingers and mouths, power blades and mouths, other people’s pliers and mouths, and power tools and other people’s fingers. Depending on your surgeon’s expertise, you may experience them all.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been writing a column for the local paper, and that is where most of this piece appears. I will, however, leave you with a teaser:

“Some things are just badly named. Airplane schedules, for example, implies that your flight is following a timetable and might possibly leave on time. WikiLeaks sounds more like a crowd-sourced, friendly volunteer plumbing organization than a classified information publisher….”

Finally, I’d love to offer you that one weird old trick (discovered by a local stay-at-home house that doctors HATE) to avoid getting this surgery, but there isn’t one. Sorry. Now, what are you waiting for? Read the rest of this column.

My Real Name (and Why I Stopped Posting So Often)

A wise man once said, “I have a dream.”

Another wise man once said, “Those who start blog posts with famous quotes are uncreative losers who deserve to rot in a room full of pre-teen girls discussing Justin Bieber’s eyes.”

And that’s what this post is all about: a dream, an uncreative loser, and Justin Bieber’s eyes a blog.

If you’ve ever read our about page, you know that my real name isn’t Phil. You’ve also probably figured out that I’m not a two-dimensional, comically-white-skinned guy with hair that doesn’t extend past the shape of his head. And if you’ve gotten that far, you’ve also likely realized that I’m actually a blue-toed Amazonian frog with a laptop and a WiFi connection.

Okay, fine, the million dollar question: who am I? And why did I use a pseudonym in the first place?

Let’s start with the last question first.

The Pseudonym

I started this blog with a pseudonym for a few reasons.

First of all, when I began High School Humor Blog, I had no critical acclaim as a humor writer*. I didn’t want to attach my real name to the blog until I was sure that I could write at least one almost-mildly-funny joke every now and then. That way, there was no pressure and I was free to write without worrying about how funny it was. Which, in turn, allowed me to develop my writing and enjoy it more. Now, about 200,000 words later, I’ve become a bit more confident (or deluded) in my humor-writing ability.

*Thankfully, now I’ve got loads of critical acclaim; lots of people like to criticize my writing and make a claim that it sucks.

Secondly, writing under a pseudonym ensured that I never had to worry about anyone I know reading this and then deciding that I am rambling, clueless, unfunny writer. That all may be true, but I like to think I do a pretty darn good job of hiding it when you meet me in person.

Thirdly, by using a pseudonym and fake picture, I allowed you all to imagine whoever you wanted, although I’m sure I’m sixty times more attractive in real life than the Phil of your dreams.

Now I know what you’re thinking: those are all brilliant reasons to use a pseudonym. So why would I stop and reveal my real name?

The Name

Well, for a few reasons. (Different reasons, however, than why I used a pseudonym, although I think there are only like eight reasons that exist in the world total, so I’m using them all up).

First of all, I’m proud of the content of this blog, and so I have many fewer scruples* about tying it to my real name than I used to.

*Scruple (n): a Danish pastry, sort of like strudel meets waffle.

Secondly, and mainly, the reason I have posted less this year is partly that I’ve been busy, but also partly that I’ve been writing a slightly more serious (slightly is the key word) column for my local paper every 3 to 4 weeks. Which means instead of publishing it here, it gets published in the paper, and you never know it exists. And so, by tying my real identity to the blog, I can offer you a few past columns of material you’ve never seen before.

Thirdly, I’m dabbling in all sorts of comedy and continue to do so, so if any of that ever appears in a format that you can get online, I can offer you that as well. I’m not going to go into specifics on anything, but it’ll leave me many more future options and decrease the likelihood we go a long time without posting.

And so, without further ado, I give you my real name:

J. K. Rowling

Okay, just kidding. Sorry. I hope you didn’t get too excited. (If you have no idea why I just did that, and think I’m a mean, terrible person, check this out).

My real name is actually Joel Kwartler (so at least the “J. K.” part wasn’t a complete lie). Pronounced “Kah-keh-car-keewar-whattheheck?” or “Quart-ler” for short. You could Google me and try to stalk me, but you won’t have much success—I don’t have a Facebook page (aside from the one for this blog), a Twitter, or even (gasp) a MySpace account. I know, I know, I’m not even on VHS, whatever that is. (For those of you who remember him, Ted–the other guy who wrote a few posts for this blog years ago–would prefer to remain Ted at this time.)

Since it’s probably unfair to leave you with a name and no face, here’s a picture of me:

I'm the guy in the center, between the nobody on the left and the invisible dude on the right.

I’m the guy in the center, between the nobody on the left and the invisible dude on the right.

Now that I’ve broken my cover, you’ll probably want to know a few things about me. Here’s what I’ll tell you:

  • When I was very young, a man came up to me (supposedly a family member) and screamed that he stole my nose. It took me a second to realize it, but he actually stole my nose. What you see in the picture is a prosthetic replacement made out of his thumb.
  • I know a man with one leg named Smith. The name of the other leg, if you’d care to know it, is Frederick.
  • I can bench press 4,562 lbs. “Lb” stands for “little bug,” which weighs approximately nothing.
  • My teeth have spent five years of their lives in jail. Some people call that “braces.” They’re on parole now.

Finally, you might be wondering what the future of this blog will hold. But before I get into that, I’d just like to thank you all, once again, for taking the time to read, share, or leave spam comments written in Greek about Russian pharmaceutical products. It means a lot.

So, the future. I’ll be a senior in high school this year, meaning I’ve still got one year to continue writing as an authority on high school. Also, that column for the local paper will continue, but (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) with a less demanding schedule, meaning I can focus a bit more on writing for this blog. The past few months have shown me I can no longer make any promises as to the exact frequency of posts, but I’ll do my best to post as often as possible. As for what’s going to happen at the end of this school year, well, I haven’t quite figured that out (if you’ve got any thoughts on what High School Humor Blog should become once I’m no longer in high school, they’re always welcome).

That’s about it, for now. Keep your eye out for an updated “about” page. (For those of you reading this by email or feed reader, I’ll mention it in a post when I update the about page).

Also, now that you know who I am, if you ever do meet me in person, you have only two options: go stark raving mad about how much you love this blog, or compliment me on my prosthetic nose.

3 Disturbing Trends of Summer Homework

A funny pic about summer homeworkFor those of you unaware, there is such a thing as homework over the summer. I doubt that’s news to you. Even if you didn’t get any, I’m sure your peers did, and, if your peers are anything like my peers—which they should be, since I’m using peers informally to mean “the teenage population of the entire world”—you heard about it via social media.

Perhaps it was a status update that said, “Too weak to pick up this novel, even tho the main character is also named Derek. Somebody pls jump start my motivation,” or a tweet reading, “Ugh reports to do, but there’s sun. #CanYouSpellSummerYeah! #summer #sumer #summar #NoSrslyHowDoYouSpellSummer. Btw just hooked up jumper cables and shocked Derek into motivation. I think. #orHesInAComa”; either way, I’m sure your friends made it all too clear.

See, summer homework is perhaps the silliest type of homework, mostly because of its name, “summer homework,” which implies that it’s homework you’ll do over the summer. As anyone who has summer homework can tell you, that’s simply not true.

Most summer homework is completed on the last day of school, before you melt into a summer blob of sleep and food and it becomes too much effort to even open both eyes at once, or in the wee hours of the morning before the first day of school, when it is also very hard to keep both eyes open at once.

Now, my fellow peers, this used to be fine. After all, you know what they say: “It’s all fun and games when someone loses an eye.” Used to be fine, that is. But there have been some very disturbing trends in the field of summer homework.

Technology

We all know technology is great; without it we wouldn’t be able to do things like text friends, Facebook message friends, tweet friends, Instagram friends, maps friends, iBooks friends, Safari friends, or socialize using of any of the other phone apps you may have.

The problem with technology arises when teachers get their hands on it. History has shown us countless examples of why this is terrible for students:

  • June 28th, 1914: Ms. Smith, on vacation in Bosnia, accidentally confuses her new camera with a bystander’s pistol, and, trying to get a “good shot” of the parade to take back to her history class and lecture about primary source documents, accidentally shoots Archduke Franz Ferdinand, plunging the world into war. This war will later become the focus of thousands of future homework assignments.

  • December 3rd, 1997: Mr. Phillips, trying to connect his “Ethernet” to the “Internet” using a “Butterflynet,” catches fire from the electrical charge. He stops, drops, and rolls down the hall, trailing flames and catching the beautiful wood lockers on fire, causing $400,000 in damages. The FDA, reacting to the damages, requires that schools now use ugly metal lockers, ignoring the fact that they often jam, pinch fingers, or dent.

  • December 31st, 1999: Scared that Y2K bug might pester her students during upcoming midterms, Mrs. Johnson covers her classroom in concentrated DEET, creating a need for her students to take midterms in gas masks and rubber gloves.

  • April 14th, 2002: Mr. Arnolds learns about educational DVDs, and never teaches or gives a lecture again. In an attempt to avoid death by boredom, his students start playing “fantasy backdrops,” tracking and placing bets on the appearances of specific bookshelves, books, and plants that appear behind the interviewees.

  • February 17th, 2012: Although she has the flu, Mrs. Davidson has her unprepared students present anyways, grading from the back via FaceTime.

Maybe you found those examples funny, but I can tell you that I certainly didn’t. I’m not exaggerating here—there’s a teacher who’s reading this, right now, and thinking “Huh, I need to go to the store and pick me up some DVDs and FaceTime, whatever aisle they keep that in.”

Actually, the problem is that most teachers know how to use technology, including FaceTime. And this is ruinous to the normal completion of summer homework. Nowadays, you can’t just wait until summer is over to do your homework; thanks to the internet, teachers can make you do it by whenever they say.

History essay? Email it in by August 1st. English discussion? Use an online forum that closes two weeks before school starts. Group biology report? If he wanted to, your teacher could literally get on Google docs and follow your cursor, making comments like “can you type any faster?!?!” or “missed a comma there, and there, and there, and three of them there, and one at the bottom, and two in that sentence, and one in the sentence you used the wrong ‘its’ in.” I would not be surprised if, sometime in the next few years, your teacher starts hologramming himself into your bedroom at 5 AM, shouting at you to “wake up, chop chop, you’ve slept long enough; you’ve got a 600 page novel I’d like read before you eat breakfast.”

Amount

Unfortunately, not only has summer homework slowly gained stricter deadlines, but it also has grown in quantity.

Four years ago, only the toughest AP classes (of which, if you’ve been following this blog for a long time, AP History of the Cheerio is one) carried summer work. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear about homework being assigned for study halls. Okay, actually, that’s still uncommon, but you know what I mean.

Where do you think the phrase “at least it’s not rocket science” came from? Rocket science was the only class with summer homework.

And, as it creeps ever closer to world domination, summer homework is assigned at younger and younger grades. Lend me your ears, peers, because the day incoming seventh graders have to write a 100-word essay about what they’re looking forward to about junior high school (for which there is only one word, “nothing,” because junior high is brutal) will be a dark day for our society.

Social Acceptance

Back in the booming 50’s, nothing was acceptable. Communism? No way. Music that’s faster than five beats per minute? Let me show you the door. Someone wearing a fedora with suspenders and crocs? It was legal to shoot them. So, you can imagine, summer homework was unheard of.

Even in the early 2000s, you could tell someone you had summer homework and they’d reply, “Homework? In the summer? That’s ridiculous! You know what I mean? Ludicrous! You get me? This is nonsensical! Understand? Outrageous! Hear me? That’s preposterous! It’s ludicrously preposterous! Know what I’m saying? It’s outrageously ridiculous! I’m outraged! I’m raging out! I cannot believe it.”

Nowadays, tell an adult you’ve got summer homework and they’ll just say, “Yeah, so? What else is new? Wait—don’t tell me, I want to guess. Next you’re going to complain about having that teacher/hologram wake you up at 5 AM every morning. Deal with it, kid. Consider yourself lucky. Back in my day we didn’t have holograms. Heck, we didn’t even have 5 AM.”

And this is why, just like fast music and fedora/suspenders/crocs combos, summer homework will slowly permeate all parts of our society.

But should we care? Summer homework isn’t nearly as bad as regular homework, which doesn’t even get a specific name because there’d be too many to keep track of (fall homework, winter homework, weekly homework, daily homework, due-six-months-later-just-to-keep-you-up-at-night homework, etc).

I say we should. Because when summer falls to homework, you’ll have to spring just to winter through it.

Yes, I’m back. I am so sorry to have left you post-less for two months. Stay tuned; an explanation is coming, and also a—well, you’ll just have to keep your eye on the blog.

In the meantime, you probably noticed Google’s feed reader shut down, and if you still haven’t replaced it and wanted to (so you can stay updated using this blog’s RSS feed), I recommend Feedly. If you think RSS stands for Really Scary Spiders, then just ignore that previous sentence. And don’t look up, just back away slowly.