4×6 = 18 – or how I passed my math exam after all…

The exam period begins and while I’m correcting the first papers, I remember my own math exam… Numerik-II in 1998 – at the same time my very last attempt, because Numerik and I were bound by a deeply celebrated, mutual enmity…

Unfortunately, failing also means that my studies are over for me. Although I had already successfully completed the computer science and mathematics pre-diploma, I needed this one certificate to be admitted to the diploma. And that was the last attempt for me. Not good… So with anxious steps I make my way to the scoreboard, 25 points were required to pass, I had… 23.

Shock. Have I really failed now? Can that be? What now? Different study program? Training? I would actually like to become a computer scientist. Damn. So what to do?

First to the exam meeting. Slightly shaky and still in a state of shock, I meet Dr. Alexander K., a mathematician with a doctorate, who has corrected the exams, and he shows me my results. Alexander says “Look, you have 6 points for each of the first four tasks and 5 points for the fifth task. 4×6 are 18 and 5 are 23, unfortunately you’ve failed”. I let that sink in for a moment, but then look at him in confusion. “Please repeat….?” and he repeats “4×6 are 18 and 5 are 23” and his eyes get almost as big as mine at that moment.

Of course, the (or his) miscalculation is corrected immediately and I receive the correct 4×6=24 plus 5 are 29 points, my Numerics II certificate, can continue my studies and graduate a year later. Crazy. This story has haunted me ever since and almost everyone who knows me has heard it.

In response, I always receive similar – sometimes funny, sometimes tragic – anecdotes from my student days. Anyone who wants to is welcome to share their own experiences here (I certainly won’t tell anyone).

And with this experience in mind, I now sit in front of my exams, write dots next to the tasks and – to be on the safe side – have the calculator next to me – because mistakes happen. Not only for the students, but also for us teachers or correctors. Let’s deal with it with mutual understanding and a smiling eye 🙂

Have a wonderful end to the day!