Once again, finals season is upon us. Perhaps this is your first, and you’re wondering, “How the heck am I going to get through these damn things with passing grades and all?” Perhaps this is your last round of finals, and you’re thinking the same thing. Well, there are no hard and fast rules that will guarantee you good grades on your finals, but if you’re really desperate, here are a few suggestions that are likely to do you more good than just sitting around and stressing about it:
- Get somebody else (preferably smarter than you) to take the test for you. One way to do this is to claim you have insider access to the transcript database at Sproul, and tell that brainy kid who sits in the front row and asks hard questions all the time that you’ll wipe that B+ he got last year off his record if he’ll just do you a little favor. Even the most ethical will be tempted by the promise of regaining their 4.0 and will likely cave in to your corrupting influence. The beauty of this is that since grade reports don’t come until six weeks after the end of the semester, he won’t know that you’re just using him and have no intention of actually fixing his transcript until next semester, when you can skillfully arrange to completely avoid him. Or, if you are more cautious, you have plenty of time to change your haircut, have radical plastic surgery performed, or testify against a mobster and get enrolled in the witness protection program.
Note: it is not recommended to ask your TA to take your exam for you, as TA’s often have a slight conflict of interest in this case; since they are so used to checking off wrong answers, they may actually do a poor job on your test so that they can later have the maniacal pleasure of covering your paper with red ink. Also note that it is not recommended to bribe your professor to take the test for you either; there are much more direct ways of grade enhancement by way of the professor that bypass the final entirely. (See “Offering and performing sexual favors” below).
- Grade the test yourself. You know the box on the front of your bluebook or photocopied test below your name that says “Score”? Just fill it in yourself and hope that the grader is tricked into thinking she’s already done yours. Use your old midterms for reference to make sure you use the correct color and type of pen, and mimic the grader’s handwriting style. Also be sure that you give yourself a reasonable, inconspicuous score in the B+/A- range, as you can imagine the embarrassment that would result if you were discovered because you accidentally gave yourself the high score. For best results, write illegible comments on the inside of the exam as well. For tests where different people grade different parts, you may also have to find out this information in advance, make up one of those little charts listing the scores on each problem, and fill in each line with the pen and handwriting used by a different TA or professor on your last midterm.
Use telecommunications technology to its full potential. If you’re not allowed to use a cheat sheet, but you really need one, improvise by recording important information as messages on your answering machine. When you’ve seen the test and have had enough time to figure out what things you’ll need to know, have someone call your pager and ask if you can be excused to make an urgent phone call. Of course, you will actually call home and check your messages, which will include the relevant information you recorded before you left. If you are really high-tech, send a fax for help to your buddies from your Newton(tm), and just wait for the correct answers to come flooding in. (Note: this may require previously-made arrangements with people knowledgeable in the subject area of your test.)
Just before the final, use the controlled substance of your choice. Hey, at least it will make the time you spend failing more pleasant….
Study hard and get a good night’s sleep beforehand. Maybe this isn’t a real alternative, but, like I said, there are no guarantees….
So, you see, not all hope is lost. There are plenty of creative strategies you can use to improve your chances of surviving finals. Good luck!