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Correcting exams is probably the most boring task of a teacher.

But it might be amusing for us to collect funny statistics exam answers.

One entry per answer.

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closed as off topic by John, cardinal, Macro, Jeff Atwood Jun 18 '12 at 22:42

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  • $\begingroup$ I think everyone here who has taught statistics has had a student give an answer where a probability is not restricted to the interval $[0,1]$ but that's really more disconcerting than funny. $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 18 '12 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Macro Every...single....exam I had multiple students give probabilities less than 0 or greater than 1. It made me want to scream. This was not restricted to Intro Stats... even in Intro to MCMC I saw it. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Rosario Jun 18 '12 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ The early answers to this thread are so off-topic I think this should be closed. SE is not the place for lists of jokes, etc. (even though we all enjoy them.) See guideline #3 at blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/01/stack-overflow-where-we-hate-fun, for example. I anticipate complaints, though, so I'm holding back. But if the quality doesn't go up quickly, I won't hesitate to put in a close vote! $\endgroup$ – whuber Jun 18 '12 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ It's interesting how the off topic answers are getting voted up as well. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 18 '12 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ I had a post that was off-topic so removed it. As far as true students' mistakes go: I am a grad student and have been teaching into to Econometrics for two semesters. I have seen: complete inability of students to work with fractions, things like: 1/2 + 1/3 = 2/5, answers with negative probability, negative variance. Students constantly mess up their orders of operations. I got blank stare when I asked a student "What is the probability of getting heads in a coin toss". $\endgroup$ – Akavall Jun 18 '12 at 22:40
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A bit off topic but I recently came across the working book by Rafe Donahue on statistical graphics, Fundamental Statistical Concepts in Presenting Data: Principles for Constructing Better Graphics, and within he has some interesting and comical discussion of the problems given in a child's homework (via Andrew Gelman).

In particular around pages 14-16 he has some interesting notes about some silly pictograms, but IMO some real gems come in a discussion on pages 66-67 when discussing how to interpret some overlay vague questions related to the temporal distribution of bodily temperatures. Pasted below is an excerpt from page 67 (but you really need to read the whole two pages to get the full effect):

enter image description here

The test makers can be silly sometimes (oftentimes?) as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ As of PM June 18, 2012, this is the closest answer to on topic. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 18 '12 at 19:34

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