Independence is not good for some people

So lecturer X, for whose course “Coursename A” I am the teaching assistant, is away on a research retreat at Mt. Wolfdoom. This leaves me to spellcheck, photocopy and supervise the final exam.

I am so fighting the temptation to add one more question to the test.

Possibly this:

Essay. Inner products and me. (6 p.)

Or this:

Let P be the set of polynomials with real coefficients. What is the third element of P? (6 p.)

Or this:

Do you feel this course will prove to be useful in your professional life? (6 p.)

For the person that has not given in to the Darkness Which Is Math, the first question is ludicrous; the second nonsensical; and the third is a standard stupidity from the course evaluation form, made more exciting by the promise/threat of six points hanging in the balance.

— but probably I will resist this temptation, because after the test is over (ha!) I’ll scan the produced chickenfeet into pdf, and send them to Mt. Wolfdoom. And then thunder will flash over the mountain, and a voice dead cold and inhuman will utter many bad words.

Then again, if I said this special extra question should be answered on a separate sheet of paper…

Or if I handed out a special sheet which was the answer sheet for that question in itself —

(E1) What is the biggest natural number?

  1. one
  2. two
  3. four

(E2) The exam supervisor is thinking of a function. Write that function here:f(x) = __________

(E3) Your answer to the previous question is…

  1. Correct.
  2. Incorrect.
  3. I don’t know.

(E4) Your answer to the previous question is…

  1. Correct.
  2. Incorrect.
  3. I don’t know.

(E5) Your answer to the previous question is…

  1. Correct.
  2. Incorrect.
  3. I don’t know.

Once you think a while about the chain of those last questions, you may shudder. (“Well, I don’t know the function so for E3 “I don’t know” if my guess was correct. But what if it was? Then should I choose both “I don’t know” and “Correct”, and do I get partial credit from choosing just one? Should I hazard a guess? And if my answer is just partially correct, what do I answer the next one?”)

It’s a soluble problem, I think, but it would cause some twitching.

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