Claim: Faced with a difficult exam question, a student scribbles "God only knows" as his answer.
[Reader's Digest, 1949]
Just before Christmas a college professor read the following on an examination paper: "God only knows the answer to this question. Merry Christmas."
Across the paper the professor wrote: "God gets an A, you get an F. Happy New Year."
When I was teaching, I loved giving lectures, but I hated marking papers. I was always afraid I would have to fail someone. The head of my department, when I told him of my worries, was quite unsympathetic. He said failing people was my job — if they deserved it.
Of course, if the student made it easy, that was different.
A student, despairing of a certain question, stared at his blank examination booklet and finally wrote, "God knows the answer to this question."
It came back with the notation: "God gets and A; you get an F."
Origins: This legend (which dates to at least 1946) is told as a current true story on college campuses today. It could be considered the flip side of the infamous Why Ask Why? legend (in which the wide-ranging question of "Why" is answered with a pithy "Why not?," fetching an A for the brilliant student). Here, scholastic laziness is rewarded with the mark it deserves. Moreover, the professor hands the student's lofty statement back to him in such a manner as to make the ill-prepared student eat it.
College exam legends are about the war between instructor and student to prove which one is the smarter. In this one, the prof wins.