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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 4. March 27, 1952

How To Win At Exams Without Actually Cheating — Staff Member "X"

How To Win At Exams Without Actually Cheating

Staff Member "X"

Examinations is a game in which any number of players, called Students, a Latin word meaning "keen people," play individually and simultaneously against a single player who takes the bank and is called the Examiner, a Latin word which means "weigher-up." It differs from most games in that, while the rules are well-known, and indeed traditional, the method of scoring is kept secret by the Examiner, the score for each game not being announced until play has ceased.

Some general advice of methods of play may not be without profit to players. For more detailed advice, the services of a Coach should be enlisted.

Footwrong's Approach

It is known that the object of the game is to create an illusion, sufficiently specious for it to be deemed not discreditable for the Examiner to pretend to believe in it, that the Student has (a) Done Some Work, and/or (b) Knows Something About His Subject. It might be thought that this illusion could be perfectly created by presenting to the Examiner, upon each topic touching which he exhibits his curiosity a verbatim transcription of what the Examiner has himself said during the year. Mot only, however, is the method per se inefficient, since by it the Student is obliged actually to Do Some Work, but also, [unclear: contra[gap — reason: illegible]] to what might be expected, the results obtained are seldom more than passable. This is thought to be an accident [unclear: con]sequence of the very popularity the method: the Examiner, having presented to him ad infinitum, the same facts and arguments la the same form, becomes aware that the facts do not support the arguments, and his temper is spoilt thereby for the play. (No confusion should exist in the player's mind upon this point between the rules of Examinations and the rules of the game usually known as Research, it being one of the conventions of this game that inconclusive arguments embodied in a Thesis or a Learned Journal are praiseworthy, provided the form in which they are expressed be decently obscure.)

The Basic Plays

It will be apparent that, to the method of play described above, which is usually known as Dishing Up the Same Old Stuff, there are two alternatives:

(1) One is to support the arguments by different facts, or possibly even to support different arguments by different facts, in which case it might be thought that the absence of repetition will ensure that the Examiner does not see that the facts do not support the arguments. This may be achieved by (i) Pure Invention of facts and arguments" or (ii) Reading. Reading again may be (A) from Reading Lists, or (B) Private Interprise. Presenting the Examiner with Pure Invention is strongly to be deprecated (save in certain subjects where all the facts, arguments and theories are Pure Invention anyway, so that there is a reasonable possibility of further invention passing undetected), since it indicates to the Examiner that the Student Does no Know What he is Talking About, the assumption in all such cases being that the Student must be in the same situation as the Examiner. Reading from Reading Lists is again an unsatisfactory method of play, being open to the same objections as Dishing Up the Same Old Stuff. Reading by Private Enterprise, on the other hand, can be very effective, provided some way can be found of ascertaining before play is commenced that the Examiner has (a) read the book in question himself, and (b) approves of it, but has not (c) copied out his lecture notes from it. The point of (b) will be apparent. The point of (a) is to avoid the Examiner's assuming that the Student is playing according to the Pure Invention method. Infringement of (c) brings about automatic disqualification, being considered Unfair. This method, then, requires caution. As it also requires the Student actually to Do Some Work, it is better left to scholarship-hunters and other impractical people.


(2) The other alternative to Dishing Up the Same Old Stuff is instead of presenting to the Examiner a verbatim transcription of what he has said, to shuffle the lecture-notes well before commencing play, and then play a selection of them only in as different an order as possible from that in which they were dealt to the Student by the Examiner. Exhaustive tests have shown that the appearance on the same page of a candidate's answer book of a fact which appeared on, say, page 15 of the Examiner'S lecture-notes and a fact which appeared on, say, page 273, exerts upon the Examiner a charm so irresistible as to render him unfit for a proper assessment of play. The appearance of the facts is proof that the Student has Done Some Work, while the unfamiliar juxtaposition, since with luck it will be individual, excludes the possibility of the Examiner's perceiving, after prolonged repetition, that the facts do not support the arguments, and is considered as proof that the Student Understands His Subject. This method, of course, still requires the Student actually to Do Some Work, but with a little experience this can be reduced to a minimum, and calculated beforehand to a nicety. If, during play, the Student finds he has miscalculated and Done too little Work, a pass can still usually be secured by the judicious mixture of a little carefully selected Pure Invention in Reverse. This consists in proceeding as for Pure Invention, but with this difference that the facts and arguments are attributed to what are usually referred to as "Some Authorities," and then confidently disagreed with. It will be appreciated that Pure Invention in Reverse is practicable only as one facet of a method Of play such as that suggested here.

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