Hacking Finals

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1. Ambiguity is your best friend. We both know you don’t know s*** about what is going to be on this test, or anything about any of the readings you were supposed to do this semester. That’s why you are reading this. But you don’t have to go into the test day without any tools in your arsenal. Make sure to bring pens that are nearly out of ink and prepare to write the sloppiest you have ever written before. Don’t remember that guy’s name? Write your best guess in sloppy cursive and keep going along in your essay as if you knew the answer since day one. Refer to “him” and “when he discovered x” if you don’t remember who it was, or what the date was either. Yes, you might get zero points on the question for being too vague, but you also have to consider whether your professor will even notice how vague you are after grading the same exact questions 100 times in a row. It’s worth a shot.

2. Hacking the multiple choice. The psychology department at East Carolina University found some interesting things. The right answers are often the longest or the “all of the above” choices. And if your professor points out that there is a typo in one of the answers, that is probably the right answer. Turns out most professors, when scanning through their tests, are more likely to notice errors in the correct answer. If you have absolutely no idea, your basic instinct might be to just keep guessing C. But studies show that it’s very rare to have more than two or three of the same answers in a row. So C-C-B-B-C-C might be your best bet.

3. Finding answers hidden in your…syllabus? If you come across a question that asks about what a certain person accomplished, you might want to remember back to when you re-read your syllabus in detail before shot-gunning a RedBull and hoofing it to class.  Professors often put the “objectives” of the course into their tests so they feel like they are actually teaching you something tangible. So look over the syllabus and you might find some of the same exact wording on your test. You can also use some of this verbiage in short answer questions. It’ll make you seem like you know what you are talking about (probably, for the first time all semester).

Georgetown University

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