It’s a shockingly beautiful day as you walk over to class.

The beauty is shattered when you hear you’re going to be getting your first midterm back.

This accurately summed up my day today.

For some quick context, I’m in the lowest level of calculus possible on campus. That notwithstanding, I knew that the midterm wrecked me the second I walked out of it. During the test itself, it turned out that my teacher had thought that it had printed double-sided, when in fact he had only given us half of the test. He had someone from outside the class print it, and he handed it out, slightly halfway through the test.

If this wasn’t a bad omen, I have no idea what would be.

In any case, I decided to forget about it, but not before I added up the points I was almost positive I would have gotten, concluding that I would get at least a 60 (I know, setting my sights high with an F as my goal).

As I sat down in class today, I learned we would be getting our finals back, and knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty.

I learned that the class average was a 49, but I was still confident that I did better than that.

When I got my final back, I began to flip through it, and was struck by the amount of zeros I saw. Naively, I assumed that these were because I got everything right in the problem.

Slowly, it dawned on me that my teacher seems to not believe in partial credit.

As I added the points together, I was shocked. I got a 19…out of 100.

This is without any question the worst grade I’ve ever gotten in the history of my life. We spent the rest of the class going over the disaster that was this test, and I was shocked at how many points I lost because of English mistakes. Yes, English mistakes. Countless points were taken off because I didn’t use the words to explain the math that I had written (not that anyone’s bitter…).

After class, I went to the dining hall and ate away my sorrows. I recommend Apple Jacks for this.

Although I want to purge this memory from my mind, I know that this is quite the awakening in terms of how I should use this as a learning experience. At this point, I literally can’t do any worse (if I do, I’m in more trouble than I thought), so it can only be uphill from here.

As if it would have been possible for me to forget, on a day like today, that one of UChicago’s mottos is, famously, “where fun goes to die,” there were people selling shirts with that line on them.

This is a shirt that will never go out of style.
This is a shirt that will never go out of style.

Given how true this statement was, today of all days, I simply had to buy one.

Before my midterm I had intended to write a post along the lines of “how to study for your first midterm,” but decided against it because I had no idea if my ideas would actually be successful. My advice, ex post facto, is to get a sense of the format of the test and adjust your studying completely based off of that. We had been told that we would have to do a lot of proofs on ours, and I studied them extensively, but there was not a single one on the midterm itself.

Ask your instructor what it would behoove you to study, and do what they tell you.

The front page of a sad, sad sight.
The front page of a sad, sad sight.