For example, people in South Korea love measuring your knowledge through a standardised test.

There are thousands of study aid books and private tutors to help students get high scores in tests.

Some study aid books advertise that you will only have to study what is on the test to minimise the effort that you have to put in.

If it were an English test, the purpose of the test should be to make sure that whoever gets a high score is fluent in English.

So rather than helping you become more knowledgeable, it analyses the questions that have been on the test so far, and then it shows you what the answers to the questions are.

Another example could be those people who use the leaked exam and answers to pass some certificate exams.

I was thinking if there was a word like



  • The purpose of the test is misconstrued, but it is an entrance exam, after all, and passing them is big business in other countries too.
    – jxh
    Jun 1, 2015 at 14:47
  • 1
    A “teach-to-the-test mentality” (or simply a “test mentality”) describes well what you’re talking about, but in two words, not one. “Teaching-to-the-test” as a hyphenated (and coined?) verb might work.
    – Papa Poule
    Jun 1, 2015 at 14:57
  • The standard idiom for this is "missing the forest for the trees", but I'm not aware of any single word which captures the same sentiment.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:06
  • Well, it is missing the point.
    – ermanen
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:14
  • Related (possible dupe): Hitting the target but missing the point Jun 1, 2015 at 17:34

3 Answers 3


Not a single word, but...

"defeat the purpose" could work here

to be against the purpose of something, to nullify the purpose of something


As extended beyond its medical meaning of “nearsightedness”, “myopic” and “myopia” mean “shortsightedness”:

Myopic students (and myopic educators) have no interest in anything beyond what's on the test.


A word that could fit this is legalistic, though it has some religious connotations. It is often accompanied with the idea of "following the letter of the law and forsaking the spirit of the law".

I was trying to find a single word that would fit someone who looks for loopholes to get something without going through standard procedure, but I'm pulling a blank.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.