Have you ever stumbled to class, filled with dread and wondering how you're going to explain why you don't have any work to turn in?

Surely most - if not all students have handed in a homework assignment late, at least a few times (or more!). Equally likely: just about every learner had no assignments ready to turn it, late or otherwise. When that happens, so as not to get into trouble, pupils cook up excuses why they couldn’t complete their homework when scheduled or at all.

If these assertions leave you feeling like we're speaking directly to you... we are. Your parents, professors, teachers and, yes, even your Superprofs were once pupils, too. We know how school life is and how, sometimes, learners have no desire to do homework. Or, in some cases, how any inkling of that work should be done.

A Superprof homework help tutor would render all of those points moot. With such a mentor, you would have no trouble understanding  your study materials or what is expected of you. You would not need any excuses because your work would get done on time, every time.

Maybe you don't have a Superprof tutor (yet). Maybe, for you, excuses remain the order of the day. If that's the case, you need some pretty good reasons to not have completed your assignments. Here again, your Superprof rides to the rescue by providing you with a list of excuses - some with a proven track record of credibility and others adapted to our computer-driven era.

The Dog Ate It

We head our list up with the classic - who hasn't heard about that homework-hating dog that must eat every assignment? Or maybe it's a homework-loving dog who craves the taste of graphite and ink...

The original dog who ate homework was allegedly Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise's pet fox.

Dogs don't usually eat homework
Dogs are more likely to eat your shoes than your homework Photo credit: rick ligthelm on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

The legend, written by Forrest Wickman, recounts that, back in the 6th Century, when the saint's tame fox was tasked with taking Ciarán's writings to the monastery Master. These papers were bound in a leather strap. One day, the fox chewed through the strap, allowing the papers to fly away with the wind.

Over the centuries, dogs have been accused of eating everything including, in one story published in 1808, a playing card that would have lost its master the high-stakes game he was playing.

Bringing the narrative full-circle, another religious man, in this instance an Anglican priest whose sermons tended to go on and on, reportedly had to cut his preaching short one Sunday because a dog had gotten into his study and had eaten several pages of the sermon. The worshippers were reportedly delighted at spending less time in the pews.

The bottom line: despite its lengthy history, perhaps this is not the most subtle or workable of excuses. However, should you, in all actuality, have a dog… If all else fails, you could bring a few chewed-on pages as proof.

I Don’t Remember Getting any Homework

The trouble with you supposedly having a Swiss cheese memory about homework assignments is today's technology.

Upon any claim of faulty memory on your part, your teacher will certainly ask if you checked with your mates. Even direr for you: what if your homework was assigned online, through your school's online learning portal - and you logged, in clearly indicating you knew there was work to be done?

If your teacher uses no web-based learning platforms... You probably DO remember getting your homework, but s/he can't be sure of that, right?

This particular excuse would work best if the whole class - or, at least a majority of your classmates proclaimed the same.

I Thought it Was in My Bag

This particular excuse works for just about anything, from the money you owe a friend to the book you promised to return. And, of course, undone homework.

It is particularly effective if you first dig into your backpack as you normally would - nothing to see here, Teacher! Just another diligent pupil, whipping out last night's work... And then, more frantically, your fingers scrabble and scour every pocket, even as you cast panicked glances around the room.

If you could work up an embarrassed flush, that would be the icing on the cake. "Of course you thought you packed it!", your teacher will think.

This one is a great excuse, it’s worked for students everywhere, especially those who can work up a sweat or a few tears on demand.

If your bookbag is full and has lots of pockets, this excuse will work well
A laden satchel with lots of pockets will make your homework search more credible Photo credit: Free For Commercial Use Fashion Lifestyle Images on VisualHunt / CC BY

I Didn’t Understand the Homework

This excuse works better for science, maths or questions-based homework rather than essays. That doesn't mean it won't fly if the assignment called for you to write at length; you might simply explain how you didn't quite get the idea of what you were supposed to write about.

This excuse hits two birds with one stone when you combine it with 'could you explain it to me?' because you'll get help with your homework and a deadline extension, especially if you actually don’t understand the homework assignment.

Beware of this pitfall: Teacher might ask if you talked with any of your classmates to see if they could explain what you were supposed to do. You might say that you asked your parents or an older sibling for help but avoid mentioning any mate your teacher might know, just in case s/he tries to verify your story.

My Computer Crashed

With more schools turning to web-based platforms to assign and turn in homework, a whole new spectrum of excuses has opened up to the desperate, homework-lacking learner.

Besides computer crashes, you might invoke pets and/or younger siblings breaking your laptop, hackers, power failures and even that your printer ran out of ink. Of course, that last will be the least effective excuse, especially if you are a serial homework offender. Your teacher may contend that you could have loaded your work onto a USB drive and taken it to a print shop.

Beware too that, if no other student suffered a power outage, invoking that reason may force to veer into the 'parents didn't pay the bill' territory - the only other reason that only you had no electricity to power your devices.

Too Much Homework from Another Class

This excuse would work best for college and university students.

Primary and secondary school teachers usually have an idea of how much homework their colleagues assign and, if they didn't, it would be a snap for them to check. They may start by asking your classmates; their responses might prove embarrassing for you.

Even if you lay out everything you did for that supposed other class, this story puts you and your teacher in a difficult position.

On one hand, they might think: "Poor you, clearly you’ve been given far too much homework!" but, on the other, they may well contend that other teachers' assignments aren't their concern and, being a college/university student, you should manage your schedule and workload more efficiently.

This excuse might work if your professor is too inexperienced to know better or a bit on the negligent side. Best to not underestimate them, though. Keep this one in reserve for when you truly have nothing else to offer.

I was Absent When the Homework was Assigned

Despite your attendance tick in the register, this story could still fly if you could convince your teacher you were in the loo when the assignment was announced. It would work particularly well if you are, indeed, a frequent visitor to the loo during class.

If you don't routinely excuse yourself from class, you may try to convince your teacher that s/he marked you present by mistake on that day.

Here again, your classmates would have to vouch for you. Failing that, you might rope your parents into providing a note explaining that, of course, you were absent on that day because you had to do something far more important than attending class.

Busy with Extra-curricular Activities and Volunteering

If you want to polish your civic, duty-bound image, saying you couldn't do any homework because you were helping others would be a sure bet.

Especially in these COVID times, if you're too busy doing senior citizens' shopping or helping out in your local clinic to solve equations or write dissertations, you will be nothing but a star in your teacher's eyes.

For the same reason - the coronavirus, it will be less believable if you claim team sports or group activities as your extracurricular activity. Even rowing, playing chess and singing in the church choir would be suspect.

Choose the reason you're too busy for homework wisely. If volunteering is your excuse, it would be best to actually volunteer because, if you get found out, your fall from grace would be twice as far.

Volunteering is a handy homework excuse and does good for your community
You might try volunteering to make your 'too busy' excuse true Photo credit: DFAT photo library on VisualHunt / CC BY

I Was So Sick!

Not so long ago, in the halcyon, pre-COVID days, being sick was a classic homework excuse. One could claim a 24-hour bug, food poisoning or come to class looking convincingly wan and plead a fever the night before.

Not only would you be excused from turning in your assignments but you might have garnered a bit of sympathy... to say nothing of a handy extension on your deadline for turning work in.

These days, if you claim you've been bedridden, feverish and unable to distinguish your cat from your sheet of homework, you're likely to land yourself in quarantine, missing out on classes and leisure activities alike.

If pleading illness is your go-to move to excuse yourself from turning in assignments on time, you would do best to stick with food poisoning... and even that claim is no guarantee you won't be sent home posthaste, driven by the worry that you're suffering from something far graver than a revisit of the pizza you had last night.

Tell the Truth

If you typically dole out excuses for why your homework is never done on time, perhaps it’s time to pull out your ace in the hole – the truth.

Honesty is still the best policy, after all, and your teacher will appreciate your telling the truth. It should be a refreshing change from the usual bombardment of (only somewhat believable) excuses.

Use truth-telling when you’re feeling especially sincere (and desperate). Or, the best yet: tell the truth all the time.

Of course, you wouldn't have to worry about recycling excuses if you knocked your homework out like the champ you are...

Bonus Excuses

In case the all-time favs listed above don't suit you or you've used them all at least once this school year, here are a few extra excuses to try that might save you from the wrath of Teacher:

  • I left it at home
  • I dropped it in the sewer on the way to school
  • I left it in my other satchel/bookbag/binder/notebook
  • I was looking it over and left it on the bus
  • I let (insert name of classmate) borrow it and s/he didn't give it back you may even claim that the treacherous friend turned your work in as theirs
  • My little brother/sister drew all over it (or used it to make a paper aeroplane, a boat, a nest for their guinea pig...)
  • My mother/father accidentally shredded it, along with other important documents
  • My parents were looking it over and forgot to give it back
  • My tutor accidentally packed it away with his papers
  • I spilled (insert name of a document-ruining food or beverage) all over it

Admittedly, for all that they are plausible, some of these excuses are quite funny. Your teacher may give you props for your inventiveness and, if the assignment wasn't critical, might give you a pass... this time.

If chronic homework neglect is your study style, be careful not to use the same excuse too many times. Otherwise, your teacher may not be sympathetic towards you should there ever be a legitimate reason for not doing your homework.

We hope these excuses have been helpful - or, at least, entertaining. Just remember that the more you use them, the more unbelievable they’ll become to your teacher.

In fact, it may just be more advantageous (and easier) for you to do your homework and hand it in on time.

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Krishna