it’s that time again

And it came to pass.
Early in the morning, toward the last day of the semester.
There arose a great multitude, smiting the books and wailing,
And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth,
For the day of judgement was at hand.

And they were afraid, for they had left undone
Those things which they ought to have done
And there was no help for it.
And there were many abiding in the dorms
Who had kept watch over their books by night,
But it availed them naught.

But there were some who rose peacefully,
For they had prepared themselves the way
And made straight the paths of knowledge.
And these were known
As wise burners of the midnight oil.

And to others, they were known as “curve raisers”.
And the multitude arose
And ate a hearty breakfast.
And they came to the appointed place
And their hearts were heavy
And they had come to pass.

But some of them
Repented of their riotous living and bemoaned their fate,
But they had not a prayer.
And at the last hour there came amongst them
One known as the instructor, and they feared him.

He was of diabolical smile,
And he passed papers among them and went his way.
And may and varied
Were the answers given,
For some of his teachings had fallen among fertile minds.
Others had fallen among the fallows.

While others had fallen flat.
And some there were who wrote for one hour,
Others for two,
But some turned away sorrowful, and many of these
Offered a little bull in hopes of pacifying the instructor
And there were the ones who had not a pray.

And when there finished,
They gathered up their belongings
And they went their way quietly, each in his own direction,
And each vowing unto himself in this manner:
“I shall not pass this way again.”

The Night Before Finals

Twas the night before finals,
And all through the college,
The students were praying
For last minute knowledge.

Most were quite sleepy,
But none touched their beds,
While visions of essays
danced in their heads.

Out in the taverns,
A few were still drinking,
And hoping that liquor
would loosen up their thinking.

In my own apartment,
I had been pacing,
And dreading exams
I soon would be facing.

My roommate was speechless,
His nose in his books,
And my comments to him
Drew unfriendly looks.

I drained all the coffee,
And brewed a new pot,
No longer caring
That my nerves were all shot.

I stared at my notes,
But my thoughts all were muddy,
My eyes went ablur,
I just couldn’t study.

“Some pizza might help,”
I said with a shiver,
But each place I called
Refused to deliver.

I’d nearly concluded
That life was too cruel,
With futures depending
On grades had in school.

When all of a sudden,
Our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put It Off
Ambled inside.

His spirit was careless,
His manner was mellow.
He strolled on inside
and started to bellow:

“What kind of student
Would make such a fuss,
To toss back at teachers
What they tossed at us?”

“On Cliff Notes! On Crib Notes!
On Last Year’s Exams!
On Wingit and Slingit,
And Last Minute Crams!”

His message delivered,
He vanished from sight,
But we heard him laughing
Outside in the night.

“Your teachers have pegged you,
So just do your best.
Happy Finals to All,
And to All, a good test.”

Taken From the MIT Course Evaluation Guide, Fall, 1991

The Best and Worst Comments Received
====================================

“This class was a religious experience for me…
I had to take it all on faith.”

“Text makes a satisfying `thud’ when dropped on the floor.”

“[The class] is worthwhile because I need it for the degree.”

“His blackboard technique puts Rembrandt to shame.”

“Textbook is confusing…
Someone with a knowledge of English should proofread it.”

“Have you ever fell asleep in class and awoke in another?
That’s the way I felt all term.”

“[In class] I learn I can fudge answers and get away with it.”

“Keep lecturer or tenure board will be shot.”

“The recitation instructor would make a good parking lot attendant.
Tries to tell you where to go, but you can never understand him.”

“Text is useless. I use it to kill roaches in my room.”

“[In class] the syllabus is more important than you are.”

“I am convinced that you can learn by osmosis by just sitting in his
class.”

“Help! I’ve fallen asleep and I can’t wake up!”

“Problem sets are a decoy to lure you away from potential exam
material.”

“Recitation was great. It was so confusing that I forgot who I was,
where I was, and what I was doing–It’s a great stress reliever.”

“He is one of the best teachers I have had…He is well-organized,
presents good lectures, and creates interest in the subject. I hope
my comments don’t hurt his chances of getting tenure.”

“I would sit in class and stare out the window at the squirrels.
They’ve got a cool nest in the tree.”

“He teaches like Speedy Gonzalez on a caffeine high.”

“This course kept me out of trouble from 2-4:30 on Tuesdays and
Thursdays.”

“Most of us spent the 1st 3 weeks terrified of the class.
Then solidarity kicked in.”

“Bogus number crunching. My HP is exhausted.”

“The absolute value of the TA was less than epsilon.”

“[TA] steadily improved throughout the course…
I think he started drinking and it really loosened him up.”

“Information was presented like a ruptured fire hose–
spraying in all directions–no way to stop it.”

“I never bought the text. My $60 was better spent on the Led Zeppelin
[tapes] that I used more while doing the problem sets that I
would have used the text.”

“What’s the quality of the text? `Text is printed on high quality
paper.'”

Final Exam

Instructions: Read each question carefully. Answer all questions.

Time limit: 2 hours. Begin Immediately.

History: Describe the history of the Papacy from its origins to the present
day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political,
economic, religious and philisophical impact on Europe, Asia, America and
Africa. Be brief, concise and specific.

Medicine: You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a
bottle of scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until work has been
inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

Public Speaking: 2500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm
them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

Biology: Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if
this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special
attention to its effect on the English Parliamentary System. Prove your
thesis.

Music: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and
drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

Psychology: Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional
stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the
following: Alexander of Aphrodisis, Ramses II, Hammuarabi. Support your
evaluation with quotations from each man’s work, making appropriate references.
It is not necessary to translate.

Sociology: Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of
the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

Engineering: The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed
on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili.
In 10 minutes, a hungry bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take
whatever action you feel necessary. Be prepared to justify your decision.

Economics: Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace
the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist
Controversy and the Wave Theory of Light. Outline a method for preventing
these effects. Criticize this method from ALL possible points of view, as
demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

Political Science: There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start
World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects if any.

Epistemology: Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of
your stand.

Physics: Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation
of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

Philosophy: Sketch the development of human thought. Estimate its
significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

Mathematics: Solve pi to one million places. Show all work.

General Knowledge: Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

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