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U.K. teens are currently taking the GCSEs, national exams they’ll need to get jobs and get into colleges. And, as if that’s not enough pressure, many are saying the biology GCSE went totally off the rails with inappropriate questions that had nothing to do with what students were expected to study.
According to the Telegraph, an unprecedented number of students complained on social media that the exam asked a question about 15-year-olds’ favorite alcoholic beverages, another about drunken rats, and a third about “independent businesses.”
The questions themselves aren’t public, but, in a strange echo of the memestorm sparked by unusual material on the American PSAT last October, the widespread griping on social media is enough to provide an idea what the kids were asked.
I feel sorry for whoever done the aqa biology test paper cuz that was NOT biology
— DΞΔN’S QUΞΞN (@jacksontuan2) May 18, 2016
(Exam starts) independent company… checks it’s biology. Drunk rats… checks again. Drunk 15 year olds… checks it is aqa biology!
— Rich Prowse (@ProwseRich) May 18, 2016
There’s even a Downfall “Hitler Reacts” meme—ask someone 30 or older—about the exam that’s going modestly viral:
Meanwhile, several petitions have sprung up, demanding either that the grading scale be lowered for biology, or an apology and explanation for the “unacceptable” question about underage drinking preferences. Tens of thousands of people have signed.
It seems no apology is forthcoming, however.
AQA, the firm that produced the test, sidestepped the allegations that the test was inappropriate and shifted the blame to the students.
“Exams aren’t meant to be easy and students are obviously going to tweet about that, but there was nothing wrong with this paper. We wish everyone the best of luck with the rest of their exams,” AQA said in a statement.
Best of luck indeed. With the chemistry exam coming up this week, it sounds like the kids are going to need it.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.