The test you are about to take was not made according to any consistent measurement of academic achievement. No criteria was agreed upon by the test’s authors, who more often than not corresponded through encrypted emails sent via proxy servers, unmarked letters left on the hoods of their cars, and dreams. One time one of the authors saw another at a grocery store but intentionally avoided making eye contact with him. The reasons for this are deeply relevant to this test.
The exam will begin on the hour, depending on what time zone in which it is given. A timeless version of this test may administered at any point in time in the proctors’ lives, or their children’s lives, or their children’s children’s lives, and so on. You may very well be jogging the day after your 63rd birthday when a message will arrive instructing you to begin this test.
You will be instructed to pick up and put down your writing utensils every twenty seconds. Acceptable mark-makers include pencils, pens, blood-tipped daggers, blowtorches, scribble hawks, graphite ants, and well-aimed tears.
The test will consist of three sections: That, This, and Then. Every section must be complete before the answers can be erased, and new answers put in their place. These answers do not have to be marked by the student, but must be marked by someone the student does not really like.
The purpose of giving this unstandardized test is not yet known, but experiments involving synthetic versions of this test have yielded results which may appear in peer reviewed journals in late 2019. There are some theories as to why or even if this test exists, but none of these theories have reached the consensus necessary to legitimize them in any respected field of research. Guesses into the test’s purpose have inspired several works of fiction, including the sexy thriller The Solution’s Node, and its disappointing sequel, Node’s Solution.
There is no talking at a conversational volume allowed during this test. However, you are permitted to shriek suddenly, or whisper as if whispering a secret to a bird. Stage whispers are absolutely forbidden, unless they go on for a long time, and the characters are interesting enough, in which case every other student will have to stop taking the test until your impromptu play reaches its dramatic end.
No drinks are allowed within the testing area, and food will be limited to what you can find growing naturally within the building. Leaning out of the window is acceptable, and one student may hold the ankles of another so that they can reach farther, but if the Helper Student drops the Leaner at any time, both students will have to remain out of doors for the rest of the school year.
Test questions will all be multiple choice, and these choices will always include two correct answers. The letter D will always be followed by a rune. You are permitted to keep each rune as a fun prize whether they’ve selected choice D or not. These runes may be traded but never sold, unless it is a full moon, in which case they may be given in exchange for answers to the questions in sections C., L., Upside-down Owl, and L-4.
You may not use dictionaries or calculators at any time during this assessment. In the corner of the test area, a VHS player and an unmarked tape will be left out to be viewed at your discretion. Be warned: this tape has been viewed only once, by one of the exam’s authors who has been missing since that time. However, a tome was discovered in the author’s apartment containing graphs and barely decipherable handwriting which seems to indicate the tape might help you out, especially with the math.
At this point, you may ask me any questions you’d like pertaining to the following subjects: defensive driving, acid rain, and football (both American and Everywhere Else). You may not ask about the following subjects: the test, voting district gerrymandering, anything to do with the test, common interpretations of the runes, and soccer.
Good luck and begin… now.