A Test Before Trying

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"A Test Before Trying"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 518
Directed by Chris Clements
Written by Joel H. Cohen
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Production code RABF03
Original air date January 13, 2013 (2013-01-13)
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 appearance(s) Valerie Harper as Proctor Perkins

"A Test Before Trying" is the tenth episode of the 24th season of The Simpsons and the 518th episode overall. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 13, 2013. The episode is dedicated to the memory of Huell Howser, who appeared in the episode "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?". In the Season 16 episode, "There's Something About Marrying", the travel journalist (who has a similar name), that gave Springfield a score of 6/10, thereby causing the town to lose its tourists was based on him. The character in that episode was voiced by Karl Wiedergott.


A trio of proctors visit Springfield Elementary School, telling them that they must pass an upcoming standardised 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, takes the exam, and eventually fails, 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. 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 is still 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 reopens, despite a wrecking ball knocking into Skinner's office since Superintendent Chalmers assumed Bart would fail.

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.



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.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[2]