Jane McGuire

How to fail a maths exam

How to fail a maths exam

First published date October 21 2014 Amended date February 22 2016

We all remember the days of maths lessons, doodling on the back of our hands (or on our pencil cases) and painting our nails with Tipp-Ex. Yet six months later in the exam hall everything changes and the panic sets in. Whilst most of us hold back the tears and write down every equation we have ever learnt, other students admit defeat and get clever. Although we definitely do not recommend recreating these, take a look at the nine funniest maths exam fails we could find.


The over explanation

Here on the editorial desk, we are all about words. However, the chances are, when you are asked to ‘explain’ in a maths exam, the examiner usually means in numbers not prose. 

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Furthermore, numbers never look for compliments and cannot talk. 

Image via qahs.org.uk


The witty observation

Remember this isn’t a game of ‘Where’s Wally’ and nine times out of ten your marker won’t appreciate your wit. 

Image via qahs.org.uk


Also, if you make observations like this one, it really isn’t hard to work out why you don’t know the correct answer. 

Image via funnyexam.com


Taking the question literally

Technically yes, you have expanded (a+b), mathematically, you have failed.  

Image via gstatic.com


If in doubt, draw

If numbers aren’t your thing, why not draw all over your paper – showing the examiner you are artistically gifted will score some extra points right? 

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If at first you don’t succeed – put an elephant in the way and make the problem unsolvable. 

Image via mrbartonmaths.com


Dropping in the issue of Global Warming to distract from the problem at hand is always a winner. Directing the blame to a fictional, homeless walrus might also work (but probably won’t).  

Image via pinterest 


Turn the tables and tell the examiner something they might never have realised about numbers, even if that is how to use the number 12 to draw the perfect bunny. 

Image via penelopesoasis.com


As funny as all these are, to save yourself the energy of thinking up a witty response, why not knuckle down and do a mathematics course? Like eating your greens, it may not be nice at first, but is good for you we promise! 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.