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21 Answers to Give When You Don't Know the Answer

21 Answers to Give When You Don't Know the Answer

It has happened or will happen to all of us (some more than others): you’re asked a question in class, and you don’t know the answer. Blergh. Maybe you should have done the reading last night instead of spending three hours Photoshopping you and your crush’s faces together to see what your baby would look like. (That’s normal, right? RIGHT?)

“I don’t know the answer, but I will find out,” might be the only non-answer that will keep your teacher’s head from exploding, but it’s so boring. How about trying one of these instead? With conviction!

  1. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
  2. “Does anyone else smell carbon monoxide?”
  3. “I know you are, but what am I?”
  4. “I’d like to plead the Fifth.”
  5. “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to figuratively kill you, not actually kill you because that would be a threat against a teacher and that is NOT okay, but figuratively.”
  6. “I’m sorry, what was the question?... Not hearing you. Goshdarn swimmer’s ear. Could you repeat the question?... Nope. Again, please...?”
  7. “According to what source?”
  8. “I object to the premise of the question on philosophical and religious grounds.”
  9. “Did you know that the word karaoke means 'empty orchestra' in Japanese?"
  10. “I’m getting conflicting answers from the voices in my head.”
  11. “Purple elephants.”
  12. “But it’s elementary, my dear Watson.”
  13. “Kindly wait while I Google that.”
  14. “I believe that question is best answered with a song....” [sing Phil Collins’ 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight”]
  15. “[Insert classmate’s name] told me he/she really, really wanted you to ask him/her that question. And it’s his/her birthday.”
  16. “But I didn’t press my buzzer.”
  17. [Jeopardy style] “Who is the Fifth Earl of Sandwich.”
  18. “Are you asking me because you didn’t do the reading last night either?”
  19. “Until we definitively define the Fourth Dimension, I’m not sure I can answer that question with absolute certainty.”
  20. “I have a theory, but I’m not ready to share it.”
  21. “You know that I know that you know the answer. How about we leave it that?”

When's the last time you were called on in class and didn't know the answer?

Topics: Life
Tags: teachers, high school, awkward situations, class, questions, answers

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About the Author

Kathryn Williams is the author of three YA novels but only one with an Oxford comma in the title. She is a Taurus and hates writing bios. Check out her website,, and follow her on Twitter @kathrynwauthor.

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