Lost Blue Book

Student unable to answer several exam questions makes it appear that his blue books was lost.

Claim:   Faced with a test question he cannot answer, a student tricks his instructor into believing that one of his exam booklets was lost.


Example:   [Brunvand, 1986]

This student went into his final examination with an A- average. There were two questions. He knew nothing about the first one, but he was primed on the second. He filled his first blue book with just anything he thought of. Then he labeled his second blue book II and began it with what appeared to be the last sentence or two of the answer to the first essay question. Then on the second page of the second blue book he put down 2 for the second essay question, and he wrote a beautiful answer. He turned in only the second blue book. A few days later he got a postcard from the instructor saying he got an A in the course and apologizing for having lost the first blue book.


Variations:   A variant

Fooled you!

of this legend has the student simply turning in a blank blue book (which is discarded by the grader), then successfully claiming that his blue book was lost.

Origins:   This tale (which dates to at least the 1930s) is one of several collegiate legends featuring students who cheat on exams through the mechanism of substituted or switched test booklets, such as the Paginal Exam and Mother Knows Test. This one plays on an instructor’s reluctance to penalize a student for something that was seemingly his own fault, and (as usual with this type of legend) the dishonest student receives an undeserved A.

Last updated:   20 June 2011


    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Mexican Pet.

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.   ISBN 0-393-30542-2   (p. 196).

    Girdler, Lou.   “The Legend of the Second Blue Book.”

    Western Folklore.   Issue 29 [1970]   (pp. 111-113).

Also told in:

    Croucher, John.   Exam Scams.

    St Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1996.   ISBN 1-86448-165-X   (pp. 22-23).

    Dale, Rodney.   The Tumour in the Whale.

    London: Duckworth, 1978.   ISBN 0-7156-1314-6   (p. 45).

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.

    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 208).

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