By Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky
If learning is a lifetime process, then it seems only fair to expect assessment and accountability in our lives as well as our schools. So sharpen those pencils and put away your books for a proficiency exam on the most basic subject of all: life.
Directions: Please use a no. 2 pencil. If you do not have a no. 2 pencil, you may receive half credit using a no. 1 pencil. Please do not attempt to use two no. 1 pencils, as that will confuse the instructor. You may use a no. 3 pencil, but you will receive no additional credit.
Please read the question before attempting to answer. Please answer the question asked, not the question you wish had been asked. Should you know all the answers, please remain humble. Should you wish to perform sacrifices to the gods, please exit the exam room first. Candles are not permitted.
1. Testing is teaching.
2. You will know the product is ready for shipping when:
(A) All required work has been completed.
(B) Budget is expended.
(C) "Fatal error" reclassified as "moderate severity."
(D) Artium baccalaureus!
3. Votre Famille. Repondez.
Qui est la mère de ta mère?
Ou est l'albatros de ton père?
Quand veux-tu m'enterrer, Débauche?
Ton supplice aura-t-il jamais une fin?
4. Let x = a borrower, and let y a lender be. Is there providence in the fall of a sparrow? Show your work.
5. Pyrotechnic distress signals:
A) Must be approved by U.S. Coast Guard.
B) Are best used only if another vessel is in sight.
C) Should be fired downwind or held over the side of the boat.
D) Become more expensive in one's forties.
6. Two cars leave Hollywood traveling east at 85 miles an hour. In one car is a bored salesman with a smooth line in patter and a weakness for tough dames. In the other car are two young lovers on the run, fueled by crazy passion and a bottle of cheap tequila. If each car makes three stops for mayhem, which car will reach Desolation, AZ, first? Show your work.
7. Define Sigmund Freud's theory of repetition compulsion.
Wrong. Try again.
8. According to astronomers, the universe is expanding and will continue to expand forever at increasing speed, even as the last stars flicker out in the icy void of space. Write an essay describing your summer plans.
9. In computing terminology, the term kluge (also spelled kludge; possibly from German klug: "clever") describes any method for solving a problem or accomplishing a task that works but is inefficient, inelegant, or unfathomable. This term seems to have its origin in World War II Navy slang, in which a kluge was a machine or process which worked perfectly ashore, but never on board a ship. As a result, the word came to describe any clutter that impedes efficient shipboard operations. Write a mathematical proof using this principle (k) to describe entropy, chaos theory, or the second law of thermodynamics.
10. It has been estimated that the average person produces 70 meters of finger and toenail clippings in a lifetime. The current world population is approximately 6.4 billion. The total landmass of the planet is 149,600,000 square kilometers. Assuming a current annual rate of population growth of 1.4 percent, how long will it take for the entire surface of the earth to be covered in toenail clippings?
11. Seriously, does love exist?
(C) Yes and no
(D) None of the above
12. Define Sigmund Freud's theory of repetition compulsion.
Wrong. Try again.
13. "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!--/ Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,/ Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--/ On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore--/ Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!"/ Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
--Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven"
You are walking along Middle Path upon a midnight dreary. Suddenly the crows on Ransom Hall begin to speak to you. What do they say? Please answer in six-line stanzas of trochaic octameter.
14. Insert tab A into slot C. Fold along the dotted line. Affix to metal frame with the 1/2-inch screws included. Sign with a flourish. Wheel to edge of cliff, and climb aboard. Ready?
15. Multiply your current bank balance by the number of digits in your PIN code. Divide by your age. Subtract years of formal education. Let x = the number of rolls of the dice at 2:00 a.m. in Vegas. Will you be applying for financial aid?
16. Ophelia? Emma Bovary? Come on, be honest. Hester Prynne?
17. You board an elevator on the 71st floor and press G. It descends three floors and the doors open. John Malkovich gets aboard. The doors close, and the elevator begins to descend again. Do you:
(A) Remain silent.
(B) Pretend you don't recognize him.
(C) Clear your throat discreetly, and when he glances over, praise his work.
(D) Draw your sword and cry out, "At last I have you, Athos!"
18. The theologian Paul Tillich writes: "We are aware of the power of being through the experience of the shock of non-being." Deny it.
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