Notes on The Original Student Exam

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Like many aspects of the A∴ A∴ system, the Student exam has varied some over its history.  However, it has never wandered far from its original design or intent.  Compiled here are four examples of exams utilized by Crowley.

The first dates from 1912 and bears the title of an “Examination for Probationer”.  The second example is from 1913, the third from 1916 and the final from 1945.  Though these exams vary from each other in some degree they are more similar then dis-similar and clearly establish that Crowley did in fact administer a Student exam, in one form or another, based upon the required reading list.


Test circa 1912:

  1. Write down the principal correspondences of the signs Gemini, Scorpio, Mars, and the Sephira Binah.
  2. Make a study of all the multiples of the number 11 below 1000, and endeavour to trace a connection between them.
  3. Make a study of the various methods recommended by the A∴ A∴, and endeavour to classify them under as few heads as possible.
  4. Give an interpretation of Tannhauser, “Adonis,” and Sir Palamedes the Saracen in terms of the Qabalah.
  5. Write an essay on the mystical meanings of the Vesica Piscis, the Right-Angled Triangle and the Hyperbola.
  6. Analyze the visions in Liber 418, classifying them according to the indications afforded in “The Psychology of Hashish.”
  7. Give some account of the Hindu idea of the parts of the Body and Soul.
  8. Compare the wands described by Eliphas Levi, Abramelin, the Author of “The Goetia”, and Frater Perdurabo, stating which you would prefer, and why.
  9. Design a Pantacle to synthesize the number 777.
  10. Devise and prepare a talisman to cause a temple to be built for the Order. Write out a ceremony proper to consecrate it.
  11. State the fundamental aim of the practice advocated in Book 4, Part 1, in as few words as possible.
  12. Give either (a) a full and careful comment of any five chapters (consecutive) in the “Book of Lies”, or (b) A commentary and criticism on “The Psychology of Hashish,” or “The Training of the Mind,” or “The Soldier and the Hunchback.”

Note.  The Student may consult his works of reference in answering this paper.  He should remember that a full and satisfactory reply would entitle him, as far as intellectual attainment is concerned, to the Grade of Exempt Adept, so that he should not imagine that too much is expected of him.


Test circa 1913:

  1. Write down the principal correspondences of the signs Leo and Aquarius, the planet Jupiter, and the Sephira Tiphareth.
  2. Make a study of all the multiples of the number 17 below 1000, and endeavour to trace a connection between them.
  3. Make a study of the various methods recommended by the A∴ A∴, and endeavour to classify them under as few heads as possible.
  4. Give an interpretation of Tannhauser, “Adonis,” and Sir Palamedes the Saracen in terms of the Qabalah.
  5. Write an essay on the mystical meanings of the Vesica Piscis, the Right-Angled Triangle and the Hyperbola.
  6. Compare the mystical methods of Molinos and Lao-tzu.
  7. Give some account of the Hindu idea of the parts of the Body and Soul.
  8. Compare the wands described by Eliphas Levi, Abra­melin, the Author of the Goetia, and Frater Perdurabo, stating which you would prefer, and why.
  9. Design a Pantacle to synthesize the number 666.
  10. Write out a Ritual complete with Talismans, Plan of Temple, etc., for producing a thunderstorm.
  11. Discuss the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism with regard to atman, stating to which doctrine you incline, and why.
  12. Give either (a) a full and careful comment of any five consecutive chapters in The Book of Lies, or (b) a commentary and criticism on “The Psychology of Hashish,” or “The Training of the Mind,” or “The Soldier and the Hunchback.”

Note:  The Student may consult his works of reference in answering this paper.  He should remember that a full and satisfactory reply would entitle him, as far as intellectual attainment is concerned, to the Grade of Exempt Adept, so that he should not imagine that too much is expected of him.


Test circa 1916:

  1. Write down the principal correspondences of the signs Leo and Sagittarius, the planet Venus and the Sephira Chokmah.
  2. Make a study of all the multiples of the number 37 below 1000, and endeavour to trace a connection between them.
  3. Make a study of the various methods recommended by the A∴ A∴, and endeavor to classify them under as few heads as possible.
  4. Give an interpretation of Tannhauser, Adonis, and Sir Palamede the Saracen in terms of the progress of the initiate.
  5. Write an essay on the mystical meanings of the Vesica Piscis, the Right Cone and the Ellipse.
  6. Compare the mystical methods of Swami Vivekananda and Eliphas Levi.
  7. Give some account of the Buddhist idea of the parts of the Body and Soul.
  8. Compare the talismans described by Eliphas Levi, Abramelin, the Author of the Goetia, and Frater Perdurabo, stating which you prefer and why.
  9. Design a Pantacle to synthesize the number 418.
  10. Write out a Ritual complete with Talismans, Plan of Temple, etc, for acquiring the affection of a person of the opposite sex.
  11. Discuss the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism with regard to Karma, stating to which doctrine you incline and why.
  12. Give either (a) a full and careful commentary of any 5 consecutive chapters of the Book of Lies, or (b) a commentary and criticism on “The Psychology of Hashish” or “Training of the Mind”, or the “Soldier and the Hunchback.”

Note.  The Student may consult his works of reference in answering this paper.  He should remember that a full and satisfactory reply would entitle him, as far as intellectual attainment is concerned, to the Grade of Exempt Adept, so that he should not imagine that too much is expected of him.


Test given to Grant circa 1945:

  1. Buddhism may be divided into these classes:
    1. Hinayana (Burma, Siam, Ceylon)
    2. Mahayana (Tibet)
    3. Twelve sects in Japan
    4. Zen Japan
    5. Chinese Buddhism
    What divisions of Christianity correspond to each, and why?
  2. What is the meaning, & why, of the following numbers:
    148.
    210.
    831.
    Reconcile the two apparently conflicting series of meanings of the number 65. Work out the equation 3 = 4 especially in relation to the Sephiroth and the Planets.
  3. State the difference between Vedantism, Sufism, & Molinism. Can you trace any historical sequence in these branches of Mysticism?
  4. A friend’s cows suffer from some epidemic disease. How would you set to work to discover the cause; if due to bewitchment, how to detect the agent; and how would you proceed to avert the evil?
  5. Describe a woman with Uranus conjunct Luna trine Venus rising in 8° Capricorn.

Comparing these exams side by side (especially when considering the first three examples) a definite pattern emerges and the similarities are distinct.  In fact, most questions are simple variations upon a theme – which has the added benefit of making the exam well suited to individualization.

Under Crowley, Students were not actually required to read the suggested titles in their entirety – Instead Students were expected to be familiar enough with the material to pass examination.  For most, it would be nearly impossible to read the entire list within the allotted three-month period of time.  (The Equinox alone being over 3000 pages).  Instead, as it is clearly stated in the description of the Reading List, “A Student must possess the following books” – to which Crowley further adds – Study of these books will give a thorough grounding in the intellectual side of Their system.”  This then is what is actually required of the Student – “to possess and study” the suggested titles.

“Owing to the unnecessary strain thrown upon Neophytes by unprepared persons totally ignorant of the groundwork” Crowley announces the Student Phase in The Equinox (Vol. I – No. VII) in 1912.  This was quickly followed by a second rendition six months later in Volume VIII.  These two lists are identical save for the second list included one additional title: The Tao Teh King and the writings of Kwang Tzu.  A third rendition of this list was introduced just a few months later in Book 4.  Here the Student Curriculum appears in a section entitled “Summary”, following a fictionalized question and answer session in which Crowley gives an explanation of how one may “produce genius” via the A∴A∴ system.  It is this rendition that is most commonly reproduced and the one I find most interesting  (the reasons for this are covered in my Notes on the Original Reading List – also posted here).  Ultimately the exam itself was “open book” and the Student allowed considerable time to respond.

The Student should also note that Crowley points out that full knowledge of these matters is, on an intellectual level, equivalent to that of a 7° = 4□ – or the Adeptus Exemptus Grade of the A∴ A∴ which clearly establishes that the Student curriculum goes well beyond the scope of this preliminary stage which suggest that continual study of them will benefit one well past this stage of the work.

This final example is from 1945 and the latest version that I know of.  It was hand written by Crowley and administered to Kenneth Grant in early December, just two years prior to his death.  This test varies substantially from all other known examples yet represents Crowley’s position in the later part of his life.  While there are fewer questions, and arguably easier ones, it -in general- requires the same level of scholarship as needed to complete the original.

“Love is the law, love under will”


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MS of the Test given to Grant, 1945