u_topn picture
Word Police by Barbara Wallraff
Atlantic Unbound Sidebar

Confused? Take a peek at a sample exam before you try your hand at the real thing.

Read about the new Word Police training manual, Word Court, by Word Police Commissioner Barbara Wallraff.

Join a conversation on Word Police and Word Court in Atlantic Unbound's reader forum, Post & Riposte.

Read recent Word Court columns from The Atlantic Monthly, and browse the Word Fugitives archive, in The Court Record.

Mistaken Identity Squad
Entrance Exam

Once you've answered all eight questions, press the "Submit answers" button to have your responses scored. If you're not sure of the answer to any question, why not take your best guess? (No points are deducted for wrong answers.) You'll need to get at least six answers right to be allowed to proceed. On the next page, you will be asked a final question that you must answer correctly in order to pass the exam. (On that page, you will also find the answers to these eight questions explained.)

1. Someone, it was obvious, had wreaked/wrought absolute havoc on the English language.


2. We had a suspect, and on patrol last night we finally honed/homed in on him.


3. We wanted to parlay/parley with him about giving himself up.


4. He prevaricated/procrastinated for a while, but finally he began to speak.


5. Although he had initially been reticent, it turned out that he was not reluctant to be interrogated. / Although he had initially been reluctant, it turned out that he was not reticent to be interrogated.

reticent ... reluctant
reluctant ... reticent

6. Quickly it became clear that this was a case of mistaken identity. We brought/took him home.


7. We had treated the suspect fairly, and he wasn't angry. In fact, he's now a prospective/perspective member of the Word Police.


8. Let's hope he earns his Word Police degree/diploma!


Back to introduction

Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
Cover Atlantic Unbound The Atlantic Monthly Post & Riposte Atlantic Store Search