15 Apr 2009

The chosen one

My practical exams are on full swing, and the process by which we are allotted our fateful experiment really needs a mention here!

In a batch of some twenty students taking the exam, there would be around 20-22 question papers, lying face down and spread out on a table near the entrance of the lab. We queue up by our register number and wait patiently for our turn. Each person, when his turn arrives walks forward, looks at the pile of question sets, and chooses ONE.

The cruel thing about this process is that, in case the question happens to be the only question you had not studied for (one law states that the probability of getting a question is indirectly proportional to the amount of confidence you have with the answer for that question), you would end up feeling really mad at yourself for picking that paper!

This has led to numerous superstitions amongst the students, when it comes to picking a paper. A friend of mine once said he will always pick the right most paper. Another person said he would pick the one in the middle. Some try to keep a blank mind and pray that their fingers randomly touch a paper with an easy question. And, the last person in the batch almost always curses his fate for being the last guy in the queue, because he is left with only a few papers to choose from. Or, on an unlucky day, only one paper to pick up.

But, I ask myself, does it really matter which paper I choose? Deep down I know it doesn’t. My logical reasoning tells me that there cannot be any correlation between picking a paper from a particular position and the difficulty of the question. Yet, some things are just outside the control of your logical mind. You would rather be superstitious than “break” the habit and end up with a killer question. Especially when you are already depending on the stars to wade through an exam!

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