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  #1  
Old 29 April 2014, 05:34 PM
Kibu Kibu is offline
 
 
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Default 'Helping with an exam' legend

I first heard this legend while attending Georgia Tech. However, since then, I've heard versions of it from other sources, and while I believed at the time the truth to it; I've come to believe it's more legend than anything.

The legend:

At one particular college, a professor allowed students taking their final exam in his class, to bring one item with them to help. They weren't allowed to bring books, or computers, or their notebooks, but anything else was fine. Most of the students would cram everything they could onto a single sheet of paper, or a small three by five card (front and back), while others tried to work out ways to program answers into their calculators.

Just prior to one exam taking place, the professor noticed one student in the back talking with a friend. The student had no visible help material with him, so the professor got curious. Walking over he spoke with the student, asking why he didn't have anything to help him. (The tests were notoriously hard.) The student stated he did have something to help him, and gestured to his friend. The friend had taken the test the year before, and thus knew the proper answers. Since the professor hadn't specified what the item could be, but that it simply couldn't be certain ones; he had to let the student and his help stay.

The next year, in the advanced course, he changed the rule; adding that no living beings could be brought to the test. So when the exam came around, he once more watched as this same student sat in the back of the class waiting patiently. Somewhat smugly, the professor approached the student and noted that he probably should have brought something, since his stunt from the year before wouldn't work. The student just shrugged and smiled back.

When the test began, the student pulled out a small walkie talkie, and began reading the questions off to the student (just outside the door) who had taken the test the year before; and when told the answers, he would write them down. The professor had to admit that he hadn't thought of something like that, and while he didn't like what the student was doing; technically it was within the rules for him to do so.
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  #2  
Old 29 April 2014, 09:10 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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The professor makes the rules. If he or she decides on the day of the test that the student is violating the spirit of their rules, he or she can forbid whatever it is that they're doing despite what was written or said.

The student can appeal after the test that they were treated unfairly. However, again, based on the way they wanted to take advantage of the generous "gift" of outside help from the professor, I doubt the head of the department or the dean would look favorably at the student and rule in their favor.
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  #3  
Old 29 April 2014, 09:17 PM
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Beachlife! Beachlife! is offline
 
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I can't imagine a teacher making such a rule with a list of disallowed exceptions like this. I also don't understand why a student would bring a 3x5 card crammed full of information when they could bring a sheet of paper.
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  #4  
Old 29 April 2014, 09:18 PM
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erwins erwins is offline
 
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What professor would make such an open-ended rule? Why wouldn't they have said, you can bring a sheet of paper or a calculator with stuff programmed in it? I think the answer is, "to set up this UL."

ETA: why cram it onto even a sheet of paper? You could bring a scroll of any length. Also, the first thing I though of was a cell phone, which this UL may predate, but walkie-talkies would come up pretty quickly, I think.
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  #5  
Old 29 April 2014, 09:41 PM
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Agreed, there are so many loop holes to the rules that the story seems to depict every other student as being rather dense, unimaginative or conventional.
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  #6  
Old 29 April 2014, 09:46 PM
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For the exams I took, there was a line on the exam heading (stipulated by the university) called "Aids Allowed" - these could have been any of the following....

- none
- calculator (model specified)
- drafting kit (contents specified)
- one (or more) 8.5x11 sheets - one side or both sides - this "crib sheet" was the most common form of aids allowed
- course textbook (this was rare)
- all aids allowed (textbook, notes, old exams, etc.) - this was the classic "open book" exam

There were urban legends about students bringing in computers, telephones, or even a grad student (carried on the back of the student taking the exam, as the prof was quoted as saying, apocryphally, that people can bring in "anything they can carry"), but the university had rules written elsewhere about exam policies, and that "aid materials" were limited to written materials only - no videos, recordings, or electronic devices unless explicitly stated - thus the note that aids like calculators tended to have the model or function specified beyond about 1991, as programmable calculators by then could store all manner of information, including whole problems and solutions.
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  #7  
Old 30 April 2014, 08:10 AM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Do you not have a separate rule requiring silence that would make a walkie-talkie useless anyway? "No talking" has been the first rule for almost every exam I've ever taken. (Not oral exams, obviously...) If you're allowed to talk, why bother with the walkie-talkie? You could just ask the person next to you.
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  #8  
Old 30 April 2014, 03:25 PM
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You could bring a cellphone and just text the questions to your friend. You could bring a small whiteboard, and write out the questions on the whiteboard. If there were lot of students, each of them could bring one page of the textbook each, and pass it around among themselves.
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  #9  
Old 30 April 2014, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Do you not have a separate rule requiring silence that would make a walkie-talkie useless anyway? "No talking" has been the first rule for almost every exam I've ever taken. (Not oral exams, obviously...) If you're allowed to talk, why bother with the walkie-talkie? You could just ask the person next to you.
Because you didn't carry that person in?
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  #10  
Old 30 April 2014, 03:59 PM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Baseball

When I was in university years ago, we were directed as to what could be brought. For formulae etc, we were provided a sheet upon which we could put whatever we wanted.

I asked my nephew a few years ago how they handled this at school today. Nowadays, he has to declare what he will bring in beforehand. One thing he cannot do is use his phone, regardless of what app is on it. If he has a statistics calculator app, no dice. He has to have and use an actual calculator with statistics function.

This prevents the contact to the external world.

I had to use a slide rule and abacus...just kidding. But calculators were not programmable, so I needed that sheet with the formulae on it.
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  #11  
Old 30 April 2014, 04:07 PM
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I proctored an exam once where the students were allowed to bring one sheet of paper with whatever they wanted written on one side of it only. One student brought in a sheet with writing on one side and part of the back, which was deemed unacceptable, and he was told he couldn't use it. Poor guy was nearly in tears. Solution: I taped it to the desk for him with masses of scotch tape.
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  #12  
Old 30 April 2014, 04:24 PM
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I was helping a friend with an exam in which they let him bring one sheet of paper for the lab exam. Usually, lab exams are open book, because the idea behind the test was to show that you could apply the knowledge. For some reason, this professor decided that you can bring one sheet of paper only. The problem with the subject was that there were lot of formulas, and you really had to know which formula to apply when to be able to perform the lab. My friend and me decided to fit all the formulas on this sheet. I started coaching him on how to use the formulas, and he started putting them down in very small letters into the page.

Once we were done, he started going over the formulas so he was sure he knew how to use them. He didn't have to look at the formulas anymore. He remembered all of them. Putting them on all one page triggered some sort of eidetic portion of his brain, and he could recall every part of that page. He lent the page to another guy who didn't know he couldn't bring the book until the last minute. Last I heard, he still had the page saved.. but that was 5 years ago.
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  #13  
Old 30 April 2014, 05:04 PM
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ASL ASL is offline
 
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Why didn't the professor just change the exam?
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  #14  
Old 30 April 2014, 05:23 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
You could bring a cellphone and just text the questions to your friend.
The mention of the walkie talkie makes it seem as though this must predate cellphones though. Unless phones are meant to count as computers, or the professor also forbade phones.

Or perhaps I'm dating myself by NOT automatically thinking of mobile phones as being smartphones and equivalent to computers!
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  #15  
Old 01 May 2014, 08:06 AM
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Dasla Dasla is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
The mention of the walkie talkie makes it seem as though this must predate cellphones though. Unless phones are meant to count as computers, or the professor also forbade phones.

Or perhaps I'm dating myself by NOT automatically thinking of mobile phones as being smartphones and equivalent to computers!
Or just be like me, whose mobile phone isn't a smartphone or equivalent to a computer.
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  #16  
Old 06 May 2014, 04:21 AM
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imjustasteph imjustasteph is offline
 
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I think allowing a 'cheat sheet' of a given size is an interesting thing.

Just once, in high school, in a stupid panic, I planned to cheat on a test. I wrote myself a cheat sheet that was probably an inch by 3 inches, folded it, and put it inside my watchband. I went to class and learned that in the process of writing the formulas several times (I resized the sheet twice) I had learned them.

The same teacher allowed us on two subsequent tests to bring cheat sheets of a specified size, and I don''t really remember whether I wrote them or not, used them or not, whatever, but I remember wondering if the writing was supposed to be a part of the learning, rather than a part of just passing the test.
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  #17  
Old 06 May 2014, 05:41 AM
zerocool zerocool is offline
 
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We had a proffesor who let us bring snotes, computers, anything we wanted. He also provided all his past tests and said the questions would all be repeats from earlier tests. In the course of preparing for the test by answering every previous test question (20 years worth) we all learned the material. Sneaky guy!
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  #18  
Old 06 May 2014, 06:43 AM
Onyx_TKD Onyx_TKD is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imjustasteph View Post
I think allowing a 'cheat sheet' of a given size is an interesting thing.

Just once, in high school, in a stupid panic, I planned to cheat on a test. I wrote myself a cheat sheet that was probably an inch by 3 inches, folded it, and put it inside my watchband. I went to class and learned that in the process of writing the formulas several times (I resized the sheet twice) I had learned them.

The same teacher allowed us on two subsequent tests to bring cheat sheets of a specified size, and I don''t really remember whether I wrote them or not, used them or not, whatever, but I remember wondering if the writing was supposed to be a part of the learning, rather than a part of just passing the test.
I've written many "cheat sheets" for tests where no notes were allowed, just because I find it to be an effective study tactic. For that matter, I've written them for open-book, open-notes exams as well. Not only does rewriting the formula help make it stick, but so does the thought process of selecting what information is important enough to put on the sheet and how to organize it. I assume that this is a big reason so many professors allow notes sheets for otherwise closed-notes exams.
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  #19  
Old 06 May 2014, 07:35 AM
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I basically did all my revision for my GCSEs by writing out big wall posters with all the formulae and notes on. If I'd shrunk them they would have been cheat sheets, but we weren't allowed to take sheets into any of the exams. (For A-level maths they gave you a little formula book with all the necessary identities and equations in anyway).
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  #20  
Old 06 May 2014, 11:43 PM
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Teacher Cheat sheets

I am a math teacher and I do use the 'You can bring in a 3X5 card for the test' as a teaching tool. Kids frequently tell me that having made it, they never needed to use it. The organization, decision-making, and copying is a great study technique. People who use math in 'real life' usually need to apply not memorize.
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