Rimmer's Engineering/Astronavigation Exam

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    rewatched The End recently, and doesn’t it seem a little ludicrous that Todhunter gives Rimmer and the other exam candidates three whole hours to complete an exam that’s only 2 sides of A4 paper? does everyone have really small handwriting in the future or something? with a paper that small, surely you’d only get 45 minutes?

    or maybe it’s meant to be amusing that Rimmer somehow failed an exam that’s only two pages long with a three-hour time limit 11 times, i don’t know.



    It depends on the nature of the question. I always assumed it was a discursive essay type affair, rather than a list of numbered calculation questions or something like that.

    It’s not unusual for exams to feature short questions that require very long answers.



    Every university exam I have sat (admittedly in PPE, not engineering or space flight) has been essay answers.

    The one I have in 2 weeks is 4 questions in 3 hours, so will be writing short essays for each. Previously I’ve had 3 in 3 hours and 5 in 3 hours (although that 1 was 3 short answers and 2 long)

    I find it REALLY had to believe though that astro-navigation wouldn’t involve a lot of star charts and mathematics etc.

    It could well be that this is just stage one of the examination. Maybe it is essay based, but you have to include the relevant equations and diagrams as you go, and in later stages there’s much more complicated exams that test for other things.



    >It’s not unusual for exams to feature short questions that require very long answers

    but how do you fit all that onto one page? you’d have to go and ask for extra paper


    Ben Saunders

    All the exams I have ever done have given you significantly longer to do it than was realistically necessary, and I walked out of most of them rather early.

    Although this brings into question the deleted plot line from Trojan where Rimmer wishes he had extra time from being dyslexic – he wishes he had MORE than three hours.

    Also he faints after ten minutes so i don’t think it matters how long he gets



    the idea of rimmer needing more than 3hrs to fill in 1 sheet of paper made me do a giggle. he really is just that bad i guess



    Engineer here, in a field somewhat related to space flight. The exams I did that I can remember were only a couple of pages long, gave you too much time and were mostly “here is a problem, figure it out and show your working, and maybe write a paragraph explaining the concept”, so seems about right, although they also let us take scrap paper and they provided another sheet with some equations on in a few exams.



    We also weren’t allowed modems or speaking slide rules though. Accuracy points there.



    While we’re on the subject, the Rimmer exam scene has always struck me as having remarkable similarities with the start of the Mr Bean exam scene.


    Obviously the Bean one is developed a lot further, and I guess both use pretty obvious comedy ideas for that situation, but still, eh?


    Flap Jack

    I’m sure Rimmer would say that he only fainted so early because he knew he didn’t have enough time. Lies all round, but they aren’t necessarily inconsistent with each other.


    Pete Part Three

    They’re allowed to ask for extra paper. Rimmer did when he needed to write “I am a fish” a few hundred more times in Infinity.


    International Debris

    Fucking hell we need some XIII news soon, we’re reaching some incredible levels of plot-picking here recently.



    If Rimmer only needs 3 sheets of toilet paper to wipe with, then surely 2 sides of A4 is enough to pass his astro-navs



    Is Rimmer too stupid and incompetent to ever hope of passing the astro-navs, or is it just other factors such as stress and breakdowns getting to him?

    In that scene in Skipper where he realises the last universe has everything he’s ever wanted, I quite like the idea that he could have had that life if things had only gone ever so slightly differently, rather than the astro-navs being an insurmountable problem.


    Ben Saunders

    We are our experiences, so it’s a bit of both. Arnold Rimmer did sit his Astro-Navs, did write I am a fish 400 times and faint, and anybody not doing that wouldn’t be Arnold Rimmer. They might be Ace Rimmer, though.


    Bargain Bin Holly

    “Fucking hell we need some XIII news soon, we’re reaching some incredible levels of plot-picking here recently.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.


    Plastic Percy

    <<Is Rimmer too stupid and incompetent to ever hope of passing the astro-navs, or is it just other factors such as stress and breakdowns getting to him?>>

    I like the idea presented in the novel that it’s his father’s own obsession with the military and being an officer that has brainwashed Rimmer into thinking that’s what he wants to be, and that he is so blinkered by this indoctrinated obsession that he doesn’t realise he’s not the slightest bit interested in engineering or astronavigation.



    he was actually at his happiest and most interested at doing graphic design, wasn’t he? hence why the revision timetables were made so delicately and such.


    Flap Jack

    Rimmer essentially has an inferiority complex. It doesn’t matter how much he wants to succeed or how hard he works – he’ll always subconsciously sabotage himself, because deep down he doesn’t feel he deserves success, or happiness. (Better Than Life shows this aspect of Rimmer most transparently.)

    Of course, as others have mentioned, deep down he doesn’t want to be an officer either. But he’d rather chase that false idea of happiness forever than catch up with it. Because if he did, he’d realise he was no happier, and end up without any sense of direction or purpose in life.

    Still, it’s nice to see that people still take their exams with regular pen and paper in the future.


    Plastic Percy

    Holly nails it on the head in ‘Queeg’, saying that a new body, promotion and sex are amongst the things Rimmer thinks he needs to be happy.

    And yeah, he was at his happiest colouring in and drawing. So perhaps he’d be happier as an illustrator or cartographer. There was a piece of fanfic I read a few years ago, set in the novel universe, where Lister gets Rimmer to design him a tattoo to cover up his U = BTL and DYING scars.



    It would explain his disbelief that that Lister went to art college. It comes across that he can’t believe someone like Lister would go, but it could also be that he is astonished that, yet again, Lister is proving in a small way to be more successful than Rimmer. Doing the things that he would actually want to do to make him happy.


    Plastic Percy

    Again, there’s a brief moment of panic in IWCD where he hopes that Lister didn’t have a degree. He’s paranoid that a complete slob like Lister might have more qualifications than his own swimming certificates.

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