Monday 19 March 2018

Latest exam howlers are revealed

A selection of exam-paper bloopers have been revealed
A selection of exam-paper bloopers have been revealed

What was Stalin's key weapon in controlling Eastern Europe? Sausage rolls, according to one student.

Apparently the Russian dictator was not building up a buffer zone in the region after the end of the Second World War, but a "buffet zone".

The blooper is just one of the exam howlers submitted to the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine for its annual competition.

This year's entries reveal how university students have been stumped by historical events, or simply caught out by spelling mistakes.

In a paper on the Cold War, the student for whom Stalin's actions were more along the lines of a street party than a military move wrote: "In 1945, Stalin began to build a buffet zone in Eastern Europe."

Kevin Ruane, a professor of modern history at Canterbury Christ Church University, who submitted the entry, told the magazine: "(It) conjures an image of Uncle Joe constructing a trestle table 'curtain' from the Baltic to the Adriatic to keep the rapacious capitalists at bay with canapes, sausage rolls and cocktail sausages."

Another student confused medievalist David Ganz, emeritus professor in palaeography at King's College London, by suggesting that during the Middle Ages "most books were written on valium" rather than the more traditional vellum.

And Liverpool University don John Fisher, emeritus professor of Latin American history, was reliably told that "Spain was a very Catholic country, since Christianity had been taken there in the third century BC."

In an essay on Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski and his "laboratory theatre" which required a physically demanding style of acting, one student wrote about actor Ryszard Cieslak "straining at their role in the lavatory theatre".

In another entry, a student reliably informed their tutor that the four Ps of marketing were "product, price, place, distribution".

Press Association

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