January 7, 2024 at 4:48 pm

‘If we all agree to this, then we can all get perfect scores.’ – Student Figures Out An Ingenious Way To Game A Weird Grading System And Win

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Reddit/AITA

There’s a certain sweetness when, as a student, you can figure out how to beat your teacher or professor at their own game.

Especially when the system they’ve set up is pretty hard to beat without some subterfuge.

OP was a non-traditional student, but he didn’t appreciate his professor’s non-traditional way of grading quizzes.

This was about 10+ years ago when I had returned to the local university to finish my bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

The Preface:

I was a “non-traditional” student so I was a little older and little more willing to question things.

I was taking a 3000 level Political Science course so it designed was for PoliSci majors and was required for my PoliSci degree.

It was a fairly basic Political Science course but the professor did some weird things. Specifically, there was a quiz every class over the assigned reading. These quizzes made up a significant part of the grade.

But here’s the tricky part: He seemed to be doing some sort of experiment with the “wisdom of crowds”

The setup…

The “correct” answer for a quiz question was the answer that was given by the most students in the class (a plurality) – whether it was based in fact or not. Whatever the most students said was the answer was the “correct” answer.

For example: if the question was “What year was the US Constitution ratified?” Even thought he factually correct answer would 1789, if the majority of people chose 1776, then 1776 was the “right” answer and you got credit for your answer. If you chose 1789, you were “wrong” and didn’t get credit.

This forced you to make a decision: try to be factually accurate or try to figure out what the crowd was going to do and go with that. Neither guaranteed you a correct answer. 2

He did not want to depend on his classmates for his grade.

The majority of the time, the majority of students would actually choose the factually correct answer. But if it was a common misconception, or the question was poorly worded, then that could lead to a situation where the “crowd” was wrong.

But here’s what drove me nuts…

I was not willing to make my grade dependent on whatever the other students thought might be the correct answer.

My grade became dependent on conforming to what the crowd said was “true”. I had no real control over my grade since the “wisdom” of the crowd could be anything.

A class of 30 students was probably not a large enough crowd to give you a good example of the “wisdom of crowds”.

Learning the material was not the point. Conforming to the crowd was what got you a good grade.

It wasn’t long before he figured out how to game the system.

I figured out that if we all agreed to choose the same answer for every question then we could all guarantee ourselves a perfect score on the quiz.

In reality, I only needed a plurality of people to go along with my plan. As long as I could muster enough “votes” for an answer, then we could control our destiny.

It didn’t matter if “A” was the correct answer or not. If we controlled the votes, we controlled our grades. And anyone who didn’t go with us, they were going to fail regardless of if their answer was actually correct or not.

I met everyone at the door to the classroom and explained the plan: “For every question, we are going to choose the first option. If it’s multiple choice, it’s option ‘A’. If it’s True/False, we are choosing ‘true’. If we all agree to this, then we can all get perfect scores. If you decide to go against us, your answer will be wrong.”

He convinced his fellow students to go along.

The first class we did this, the professor figured out after a few questions that we were gaming the system. He had us redo the quiz and graded us on the factually correct answers.

After the second class we did this, the professor changed the rules: There were 2 answers that would get you full points – the factually correct answer, and whatever answer the majority agreed upon.

The semester ended up going better than he had hoped.

In the end, I was OK with this arrangement.

I could study and give the correct answer without being penalized for not conforming to the crowd thinking, or if I made the same mistake as the majority of people then I still got credit for it and it was a good discussion point for the class.

Yes, I got an A in the class. I’m not sure if the professor ever figured out who organized the rebellion… but I did end up working with him in grad school and we got along just fine.

I can’t find a single flaw with this!

No one likes a group project.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Apparently this isn’t that odd, though.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Some people have valid questions.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Yay, OP, for ruining the whole thing.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Then there’s interesting little anecdote.

Source: Reddit/AITA

I was cheering for OP.

College grades, especially in your major, are too important to mess around with, imho.

If you liked that post, check this one about a guy who got revenge on his condo by making his own Christmas light rules.