statistics exam

When undertaking my PhD I had to take a statistics course that ended with an exam. Every exam answer had to show show longhand the calculation of each formula step by step along the way.

As the exam was not a test of remembering formulas, but a test of applying the correct statistical test for each problem and then undertaking the appropriate calculations (by hand), we were each allowed to take a 3x5 index card with the formulas learnt in the course into the exam. The problem was that there was no way in the world to write all the formulas we had learnt on such a small card, so I raised the issue with the professor who told me, "you will just have to write really really small on the card!"

Taking what the professor said literally I typed out the formulas and then reduced the typed page on a photocopier several times until the notes became microprint. When the exam began I took out my 3x5 microprint card and also the large microscope shown in this picture. The microscope does not really work, but never-the-less I put my formula card on it and pretended to be reading through the microscope. The professor looked really really annoyed and this annoyance was made even worse but the fact that the entire exam room erupted in laughter, but I diligently ignored the noise and worked on alternating between writing and looking intently through my microscope!

Eventually I confessed that my strategy was a joke and I took out my real 3x5 card with regular writing on it and I got on with the exam. My microscope now sits on my bookshelf at home and each time I look at it I still smile.

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