I was nearly at the end of a  plod through an academic course, one which I really enjoyed, when I got an unexpected delivery of  mail containing three coloured sheets, yellow, orange and green, (traffic lights) on which were printed:

Coping With Exams -Examination Technique; it was helpful. 

 Preparing For the Exam – Revision Technique; it was useful.

HOW TO FAIL YOUR EXAMS.   R e a l l y!!

“BEWARE before you read this guide. Failing may sound easy, but in reality may take far more time and effort than passing with honours”.

“To fail properly you will need to know that you are writing things that are incorrect.” The candidate is advised that it’s no good to find out afterwards that you’ve ‘accidentally’, written down “due to complete lack of knowledge, Grade A stuff”.  Appealing afterwards to the exam board stating your true intentions, is not going to work.

The guide also says you should not answer all the questions, you should spend more time on bits of the question than the time allocated for it.  It’s a sure way to fail.  Altogether, there are eighteen ‘fail’ suggestions, including, “Don’t be succinct“.   There is a money back guarantee on the price of the guide if you pass your exams, even after meticulously following all the guidance on how to fail.

2009-8-14th-P1010591 copy 3


P.S. I haven’t the heart to bin it.





  1. My guess is, your friend was considering the angles ….how to handle failure,or how to cope with it. Preparation for failing is a totally different take on the subject. There is no reason why it cannot be, nor why it should not be taken seriously. I am sure there are many people who will have ‘failed successfully’, (definition required !) to the eventual benefit of others and not least, themselves.

    On the other hand, it was a clever person, in my view, who wrote the, dare I say it, succinct sheet on ‘How To Fail Your Exams’, a person who understood the potential affects of enormous exam pressures and knew how to use the joint powers of paradox and humour effectively.


  2. Hello Snowbird,

    I guess the giggle value of the unsolicited ‘advisory’ is in part, why I tucked it away.

    As for the seagull, it had decided to adorn the roof of my car and then the cheeky thing posed as cool as a cucumber while I obtained the digital evidence. The expression said it all!


  3. I consider the instructions as a satirical comment on all the so-called messages of inspiration, and encouragements to succeed in life. There is only one piece of advice I would give to someone who wants to succeed: Study to learn, and not to pass the test. As for failing, that’s easy…

    • Satirical can certainly describe the instructions and satire can be very clever.

      You speak the wisdom of the sages Shimon.

      Thank you for your comment.

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