Take this completely nonsensical exam to prove you've learned something. Anything at all. You may not use the restroom. Or a pencil. Good luck.

This Is Your Final Exam

Take this completely nonsensical exam to prove you've learned something. Anything at all. You may not use the restroom. Or a pencil. Good luck.

By Kathryn Higgins

Rules and Procedures:

Make sure you go to the bathroom before the exam starts. You will not be permitted to go to the bathroom during the exam, no matter how desperate your circumstances. This is School Policy #32, posted there in the small print next to the School Mission Statement that takes up the entire west wall of the main corridor (look under the smiley faces).

Make sure you put all notebooks, notes, electronic gadgets, post-its and anything else that might be used as a semaphore device under your desk. If you are caught texting, or otherwise signaling during the test, your exam will be confiscated, and you will receive an F for the term.

Bring at least three sharpened #2 pencils, because no pencil sharpening will be allowed during the exam. If you attempt to sharpen a pencil during the test, your exam will be confiscated, and you will receive an F for the term.

#2 pencils will not be used during this exam, since the school ran out of Scantron© sheets. That is because Mr. Minotaur down in mathematics uses them every day to the 10th power. Nevertheless, you must bring the #2 pencils, because it is School Policy to have #2 pencils during exams. Note that I did not make this School Policy; it was created by Principal Williams and is enforced by Vice Principal Adder. It is Policy #27, right there on the main corridor wall, in the small print next to the illustration of joyful looking multicultural children that bear no resemblance whatsoever to you.

No raffle tickets, lollipops, stickers, or other incentive prizes will be given out during this exam. Nor will there be a pizza party paid for by me after the exam. In fact, there will be no celebration at all to commemorate your completion of this exam. You will simply take the exam, review the exam if you have any time left, and then leave, without your usual goodies, which yours truly has been paying for all year.

First Part:  Multiple Choice (25%)

In a post-industrial service-based economy:

  1. gas costs too much
  2. janitors make more money than teachers
  3. the colonies were settled by Puritans
  4. teachers are expected to throw Nerf© footballs around in order to placate rowdy students

The Zulu War of 1879 is to Principal Williams as the school cafeteria is to ______:

  1. students
  2. parents
  3. the War of 1812
  4. President Warren G. Harding

Name the irrational element.

  1. pi
  2. the Board of Ed
  3. pie
  4. tart

If you eat lunch with the school nurses, you will have to listen to conversations about:

  1. sebaceous cysts
  2. lice
  3. oozing pus
  4. the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth or sometimes the nose

In an affluent society, people still get up very early in the morning to teach high school because:

  1. we cling to the tenets of an agrarian economy
  2. it amuses the Board of Ed
  3. parents like to get their kids up really early
  4. a system of government with a separation of powers into a judicial, legislative. and executive branch

Magical realism reminds me of

  1. the price of gas
  2. the crumbs all around the toaster oven in the faculty lounge
  3. the annual school budget
  4. the students aren’t taking enough meds

Second Part: Fill in the Blanks (25%)

Choose the correct word from our state-mandated curriculum to answer the following questions:




Logical positivism




Noble savage

Newtonian Physics




1. If I have to read Catcher in the Rye one more time I will ____________________.

2. The teacher’s parking lot way back behind the football field is an ____________________.

3. My SmartBoard works approximately ____________________ of the time.

4. The teacher is expected to buy highlighters for everyone in class because ____________________.

5. Vice Principal Adder’s colon problem causes ____________________.

6. The person who keeps sticking the gum under the corner of the teacher’s desk is ____________________.

7. My textbook cost $125 and this makes me ____________________.

8. Bladder cancer afflicts teachers more than any other professionals because ____________________.

9. I’m glad the state requires this class because it will be so incredibly useful in the future to know ____________________.

10. If I worked at Chick-Fil-A or Subway, I could make more money and be a lot less stressed ____________________.

Last Part: Essay (50%)

Utilizing the knowledge you have gained over the last semester, synthesize all the following topics into one, coherent essay that combines exceptional analysis and insight, all necessary detail and quotations, correct grammar and punctuation, and a $50 bill:




Internet citizenship

Jersey Shore – vernacular and whether or not they are “acting”

Congratulations! You have finished your exam. Quietly remain seated and review it until the bell rings, then never come back here again.


About the Author

Kathryn Higgins is a writer and mom living with her two children in Connecticut. She has a B.A. in English Lit from U.C. Berkeley and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College; she teaches Writing at various colleges. Her collection of humor, Snide Remarks in Sotto Voce, is available on ebook outlets. She’s been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Real Simple Magazine, TheBigJewel.com, Health.com, TheFasterTimes.com, Xtremetravelstories.com, Jalopnik.com (a Gawker publication), ErrantParent.com, Spitefulcritic.com, Sanskrit, TheRumpus.net, Farmhousemagazine.com, The Litchfield Literary Review, The American Organist, Darien.Patch.com, Whatever, Musings, The Connecticut Post and other newspapers. She was a reader for The Paris Review. An article in TheRumpus.net listed her as one of the funniest women writers for McSweeney’s. An article in The New York Times Magazine praised her column for The Faster Times (in the last paragraph).