The Thing About Trying to be too Smart


  • Three overconfident students partied before an important exam and concocted a story about a car breakdown to get an extension.
  • The Head of Department believed their lie and granted them a 3-day extension, assuming they'd use it to study.
  • However, the students planned to cheat by getting answers from classmates. Their plan backfired when they had to take a separate qualification test.
  • The seemingly simple test exposed their lie as it focused on details from their fabricated story, leading to their disqualification.

 “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”― Mark Twain

One night three novice Varsity kids who prided themselves on being the smartest in the class, went out partying till late the night before an important exam. Stumbling home in the early hours of the next morning, they devised a clever plan, a cover story that covered all three of them.

After smudging themselves in strategic places with grease and dirt, they went to the Head of Department in the exam room explaining that they wouldn’t be able to write it since on their way home from a family event the previous night, a tire on their car burst. Because the spare was flat, they'd had to push the car all the way back to the Varsity Res and now they were in no state to sit the exam.

The HOD nodded gravely, and kindly gave them a 3 day-extension at which time they were to report to the exam room. Thrilled that their plan had worked, they figured they’d have plenty time to ask the others what was in the paper and get all the answers.

On the third day, they turned up at the exam venue. But before handing out the exam papers, the HOD asked them to separate into different classrooms for a simple Special Conditions Test set by the Board to qualify each of them for the exam extension.

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The test was very straightforward.

Two questions for 100 marks:

1) Name __________ (1 mark)

2) Multiple Choice Question: Which tire burst? (99 marks)

(a ) ___ Front Left

(b) ___ Front Right 

(c) ___ Back Left 

(d) ___ Back Right 

Needless to say none of them qualified as no one gave the same answer.

Has something similar ever happened to you? Were you taken along by a group decision that went against your better judgement?

There is one incontrovertible, universal law as consistent as the law of gravity, namely: 'you will reap what you sow'. Always, always, always ask yourself: 'Am I prepared to reap tomorrow what I sow today?'

Moral of the story: When you cheat you do yourself the greatest disservice. You may think you're getting away with it but as they say, the truth will come out! Someday, sooner than you'd have hoped, someone will outsmart you and it will come at a time you'll deeply regret. Taking responsibility is the grownup thing to do and will develop your personal integrity.

NB: Separating people and getting story details to match is a trick still used to good effect by agencies today. Parents might also find it useful for getting to the bottom of a likely tale.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical or psychological advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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