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What is the Smartest Thing You Have Done in Exams?

A while back I found a great answer to the following question on Quora. It was written by Todd Allen, a software engineer. I shared it with my daughters and think it bears repeating. I got permission from Todd to reprint.

What is the smartest thing you have ever done in exams?

Read the instructions.

We were given a long, near impossible looking psychology exam, to be completed in a standard class period. There was no way, it had essay questions, the whole deal, no one ever would have finished. Part of the instructions were “Review the entire exam before beginning to answer to find the easiest questions.”

Thought that sounded like a good idea, and so I did. Near the end of the exam, one question was “Write the number ‘100’ as the answer to this question. If you have answered no other questions, that will be your exam score.”

I was one of three people to get 100. He did take pity and take the three of us out of consideration when establishing the exam curve, but we got to keep the grade.

His instructions got read very carefully after that.

–> Quora link to Todd’s answer (Thanks, Todd!)


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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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