By weird questions, we’re not referring to the sometimes slightly bizarre stories in the PAT questions. Stories about rubber ducks, archery, or a naturalist who uses a sponge to save an egg that’s falling out of a nest, but then suddenly decides to boil it. We mean questions where you are not quite sure what the examiner wants you to write down.
What makes a PAT question weird? Maybe it’s got a typo in the wording, like 2011, question 25 (in part C, for ‘smaller’ read ‘larger’!); maybe the wording is hard to understand; maybe it is so obvious that you can’t imagine the obvious answer could possibly be what the examiners are looking for, leaving you wondering whether you have just got the wrong end of the stick and are about to make a fool of yourself. Or maybe the question is simply asking you to think about something you have never thought about before.
Oddly enough, we think the weirdest question in the PAT came directly before the hardest one. It’s the second last question in 2012. Assuming we haven’t got the wrong end of the stick, at the start it asks you to draw a graph showing how an obviously-constant value changes with respect to some variable (er, it doesn’t?). And then it asks you to explain what will happen in a situation that you will never have considered before because it’s never happened and never will.
Fortunately, there aren’t many weird questions in the PAT, and there is a simple technique for dealing with them. If you are wondering what the hell the question is on about, don’t waste time on it: leave it to the end and, once you have answered the non-weird questions, look at it again and put down the most sensible answer you can think of.