The Hardest Exam in the World
The All Souls exam, given at Oxford University in England, is widely considered to be one of the most difficult tests administered in academics.
It’s always a telling sign of intelligence when someone asks the right questions. Inquiries are a window into the intellectual curiosity of the world, and a well thought out, open ended question, can spark the kind of debate and discourse that can lead to profound moments of epiphany.
How do you go about finding the smartest people on the planet? You start in academia, perusing the hallways of the world’s most prestigious and well-respected universities and institutions of higher learning. But which departments and academics do you consider? Physicists who understand the underlying mechanisms of our universe’s nature? Biologists who understand the inner-most intricacies of living things? Or how about engineers, mathematicians, philosophers, heads of state, or titans of industry and enterprise?
It’s a tough endeavor, and there’s no doubt that the debate itself regarding whom to give the title to would be heated. The interesting part about it, though, would be what kind of questions would be asked to these hyper-intelligent people. Outside of their own areas of expertise, what humanistic inquiries could be brought up for them to ponder? What type of observations and tangential analyses would they make?
Oxford University in England administers an exam known as “The All Souls Test” for fellowships into its All Souls College. This exam is widely regarded as one of the most difficult in the world, and we thought it would be fun to inspect some of the questions, and see what we could come up with. Respond to any of the questions in the comments section, and show off your intellect!
– What is war good for?
– Why should I tolerate?
– Is exile always a misfortune?
– What do extremes in dress and personal adornment signify?
– Do historical novels harm historical study?
– Has there ever been a period that was not an information age?
– Are universal human rights a form of cultural imperialism?
– Is “Women’s Writing” a distinct category?
– What difference should it make to feminism whether gender differences are natural or socially -constructed?
– Is it worse to be cruel to a fox than to a leaf?
– Can happiness be measured?
– What are the deprivations of affluence?