A Test Before Trying
|"A Test Before Trying"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Orig. airdate||January 13, 2013|
|Written by||Joel H. Cohen|
|Directed by||Chris Clements|
|Chalkboard gag||"I will obey Oscar Campaign Rules from now on"|
|Couch gag||The couch sequence is a trailer for an action movie called The Couch.|
|Guest star(s)||Valerie Harper as Proctor Perkins|
"A Test Before Trying" is an episode of The Simpsons. It is the tenth episode of the 24th season and the 518th episode overall. It first aired on January 13, 2013. The episode is dedicated to the memory of Huell Howser, who appeared in the episode "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?".
A trio of proctors visit Springfield Elementary School, telling them that they must pass an upcoming standardized test or the school will shut down for having low scores. All of the students except Bart, who spent all day playing with a beetle, take the exam and fail, which causes the school to be shut down and the children to be sent to different schools. However, when Lisa learns that Bart did not take the exam, she urges him to take it, but he does not care for the idea. The following night, however, he changes his mind when he has a nightmare in which Springfield becomes the stupidest town in the country. Bart's test day arrives, but he still is not ready. As a result, he answers the first few questions with the same answer and does not fill in the last answer. However, the lead proctor mistakes the same beetle from earlier, who landed on one of the answer bubbles, for one of Bart's answers; she announces that he passed the test and the school is still open.
Meanwhile, Mr. Burns raises the price of electricity. As a result Homer throws his domestic appliances in the dump, where he finds a parking meter that still functions. He decides to set it up at parking spaces around Springfield, moving to another as soon as someone pays. The scheme goes off without a hitch until he finds out that Chief Wiggum is onto him. When Wiggum confronts him, he manages to escape in his car but he accidentally crashes it and the parking meter flies out of the car and lands hard on the street, expiring soon after. When Marge discovers that he still has the money, she has Homer return the money to the community by throwing it down a wishing well.
The episode contains a number of references to classic episodes. The title itself refers to the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. The Mr. Sparkle box from "In Marge We Trust" can be seen at the dump, while Groundskeeper Willie intends to send Sherri and Terri to schools in North Haverbrook and Ogdenville; both towns were mentioned in "Marge vs. the Monorail". At the end of the episode Agnes Skinner is seen standing next to her house, which once again resembles the house of Norman Bates and his mother. Also there is a reference to the Greek mythology, when Maggie put two coins on Homer's closed eyes.
This episode received a 2.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic and was watched by a total of 5.04 million viewers, making it the 2nd most watched show of that night beating American Dad, The Cleveland Show and Bob's Burgers while being beaten by Family Guy which was watched by 6.01 million.
Robert David Sullivan of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B, saying, "If you're liberal, you can see the episode as a criticism of the 'test, test, test' strategy that is often offered as an alternative to better funding of public schools. If you're a conservative, you can laugh at the incompetence and jadedness of the public school administrators. Bart, no doubt, doesn't care what you do." John Blabber of Bubbleblabber gave the episode a 9/10 and said, “The Simpsons pass all the tests this week!” 
- Kondolojy, Amanda. "Sunday Final Ratings:'Family Guy' & 'The Mentalist' Adjusted Up; '60 Minutes', 'The Cleveland Show' & 'Happy Endings' Adjusted Down + Final Golden Globes Numbers". Zap2it. TV by the Numbers.
- Sullivan, Robert David (January 14, 2013). "A Test Before Trying". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 14, 2013.