Let loose the giggles as Japanese net users share some of the funniest responses to test questions that they’ve ever seen!
Many schools around the world are now winding down for the upcoming winter holidays, and it’s inevitable that students will be cramming to study for final exams in these next couple of weeks. But no matter how hard they study, there will always be times when they have a brain fart right at the critical moment of taking a test.
Take these examples of test answers gone wrong as featured on online Q&A site Oshiete! Goo. Japanese net users shared some of the most amusing answers that they, their friends, or even their own children have made on various tests over the years. While some of the answers were undoubtedly innocent mistakes that only children could make, others will leave you in disbelief as you try to fathom the mental processes that went into coming up with such absurd answers.
Ready for some fun? Okay, let’s let the net users take it away!
1. Secretly proud
“Two test responses by my children that made me laugh:
1. During her first year of elementary school, my daughter didn’t know the answer to an arithmetic word problem on a test. She simply wrote, ‘I don’t know’ for the method section and ‘I don’t know’ for the answer. What a great response from such a little girl! I like to picture her teacher either bursting into laughter or bursting into tears when she was grading the tests.
2. When she was taking a kanji test in her second year of elementary school, my daughter didn’t know the kanji for saku [作/”production”] in kosaku [工作/”construction”], but she wrote kusa [草/”grass”] in very small print near the corner of the answer column. Why kusa?
The first time I saw it, I didn’t understand why she did that, but after about three days I figured out what she meant. I had an epiphany when I realized that she had accidentally switched the syllables in saku to kusa and come up with an entirely unrelated word–it felt like I had solved a riddle! I’m guessing her teacher never figured it out.” (mamaty)
You’ve gotta give the little girl points for trying!
2. No dead bugs, please
“This is something that the younger brother of an acquaintance of mine wrote as a test answer when he was an elementary school student.
Question: ‘What do you have if you divide an insect’s body into three parts?’ Boy’s answer: ‘A dead bug.’
The correct answer was of course ‘head, thorax, and abdomen,’ but you can’t help but smile at his charming response. It’s not technically wrong, either.” (ayasu)
Yup, he’s definitely not wrong. Perhaps he really didn’t know the answer, but it’s fun to imagine him thinking in confusion, “Why are you asking me to kill the poor bug?!”
▼ Dead bugs: NOT coming to your child’s science test anytime soon.
3. Ancient peoples
“There was a test question about classical Japanese that went something like, ‘In the past, someone once said that ‘In spring it is the dawn that is most beautiful’…Who said this quote?’ There’s a certain idiot in our household, who shall remain nameless, who wrote down ‘A person who’s dead’ as the answer. It was on a high school entrance exam, too…” (mamamizuki)
The quote “In spring it is the dawn that is most beautiful” is from Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book (c. A.D. 1002). Obviously no one who lived during the Heian era (794-1185) is still alive today, but to write “She’s dead” is just ridiculous. By the way, the reason we can laugh at this answer now is because we know as a fact that this student passed his entrance exams in the end.
4. The day before yesterday
“The question ‘What is ototoi in English? ( ) ( ) ( )’ was on a middle school English test. The target answer was ‘Day before yesterday,‘ but many students wrote ‘two days ago’ instead.
The teacher explained rather dejectedly, ‘Technically ototoi does mean ‘two days ago,’ so it should be marked as correct, but the true answer is really ‘the day before yesterday.”‘ (k99)
“Ototoi…that’s two days ago,” seems like a very Japanese way of thinking. It’s certainly not wrong, since the day before yesterday is indeed two days ago. But as it was on an English test, students have to be careful of subtle language nuances.
5. The Rogue General
“I heard this story from my friend. For the question, ‘Who was the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate?’, he wrote down ‘The Rogue Shogun.’ According to him, he just couldn’t recall the name ‘Yoshimune’…
When he got the test back, the teacher had given him partial credit, leaving a note that said ‘You’re not wrong.’ What a great teacher.” (yumgyumg)
The correct answer was supposed to be “Tokugawa Yoshimune.” He probably got the “rogue” impression of this particular shogun after watching the long-running Rogue Shogun historical TV drama. Incidentally, someone else in his class answered the same question by writing “Ken Matsudaira”–the actor who played Tokugawa Yoshimune in the TV drama!
▼ The Rogue Shogun himself, looking displeased that today’s youngsters can’t seem to remember his real name…
6. Sprinting for the points
“My Friend A was stumped by the question, ‘Name the starting position for the 50 meter (164 feet)-sprint which is part of your physical strength test’ during his P.E. examination in middle school. The correct answer was ‘Crouching start,’ but A answered ‘Proper start’ and still got it right!
On the other hand, my Friend B, who was more of an artistic type, couldn’t think of the name for the life of him. He drew a spectacular picture of a sprinter in the crouching start position quite skillfully, but didn’t receive any points for it. I definitely would’ve given credit to B over A, but I guess the teacher’s standards of evaluation were different…” (sohon)
The wrong answer in written form was marked as correct, while the correct answer in drawn form was marked as incorrect–that’s a tough call to make. Perhaps the teacher’s thinking was, “This isn’t art class!”
However, there appear to be cases where pictures will get you something after all…
7. At least he wrote something…
“This is a math test answer that a somewhat juvenile delinquent-type classmate of mine gave during our second year of middle school.
The test contents were mainly related to mathematical functions, but he filled in the squares on the graph paper to create a beautiful flower picture. That was his only ‘response’ for the whole test. He should’ve gotten a zero on his test by all means, but the teacher (a slightly scary man in his 40s) gave him two points and wrote ‘Beautiful.'” (AyumiPPE)
A drawing of a flower and math have nothing to do with each other, but the picture must have been incredibly impressive. At least he tried to mark his paper with something. Thinking in this way, you should realize just how hard it must be for teachers to determine how to allot points…
▼ Graph paper: Who needs math when you can just doodle instead?
8. Melting ice
“I saw this in a newspaper a long time ago, so it might be a well-known story. An elementary school science test question asked, ‘What do you get when ice melts?’ and a little girl in Hokkaido answered, ‘Spring.'” (Bubuca)
What a splendid answer from Hokkaido, a land where deep snow does indeed give way to the spring. It’s not the correct answer for a science test, but it’s definitely the most heart-warming answer by far.
9. Writing mixup
“When my child was in her first year of elementary school, a question on her Japanese test asked, ‘Think of some words which use the kanji for ‘water’ [水]. She wrote ‘水みんぐ (suimingu),’ stating later that it should be read as ‘swimming.’ Despite her mistake, I praised her way of thinking.” (3nk)
It’s true that the kanji for water, which is usually read mizu by itself, can also be read as sui. Japanese has borrowed the English word “swimming,” which is pronounced as suimingu and written in katakana, the script for foreign words. By combining the kanji 水 (under its sui pronunciation) and –mingu into one word, this girl actually made a clever mistake that combined elements of both Japanese and English!
▼ Thankfully, you don’t need to know kanji to be able to swim.
Which one of these anecdotes tickled your funny bone the most? Do you have any amusing test responses of your own to share with the rest of us?