Monday, December 3, 2007

How to do horribly on a final exam

Ten simple steps:

"Her finals are supposed to be really easy. There's no point in studying a lot."

"Besides, I'm pretty much assured a B no matter what."

"Plus, it's been proved that overstudying leads to lower grades."

"I can study later, after Family Guy."

"I don't need to review that much anyway. After all, I have a photographic memory."

"Besides, there's so much material — if I don't know it by now, studying won't help."

"Grey's Anatomy!"


"I can just do an all-nighter. I'll be fine in the morning."

"Yeah, I should set my alarm just in case. I'll do it later."
One professor's thoughts, for any student who's reading:

It always makes sense to take a final examination seriously. If the exam turns out to be easy, wonderful. And if it's difficult, you're prepared. A strong exam performance can have significant redeeming value: if you're on the cusp between grades, it might be enough to decide things in your favor. And turning in a mediocre exam with the expectation that it won't affect your semester grade can backfire, even if your grade remains undamaged. It's the student assured of an A or B who still turns in a strong final exam whom a professor will remember with respect and affection when it's time to write a letter of recommendation.

I wrote a post some time ago for students looking to do the opposite of horribly:
How to do well on a final examination
[As several readers have suggested, these ten simple steps are a pretty tame version of how to do horribly on a final exam. A tame version is the only version I choose to imagine.]

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