Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chance of change

When I used to stress about exams in college, I used to try to calm myself down by thinking about it analytically, about how, say, five points on a test could influence my entire life.

Making a lowball extimate, there's a 0.1% chance that five points on any given test will influence my final grade.

And there's maybe a 0.01% chance that any one particular grade will influence what graduate school I get into.

So that's a 0.00001% chance of five points on any one test influencing my life in a major way.

Unfortunately, this didn't calm me down much, because while that number seems pretty low, it's actually very high, considering how many exams I used to take over the course of college.

I guess the moral is that one little thing can change your life in a big way, but it probably won't.


  1. In law school, most of my classes grades were based on the final exam, and the final exam alone. In many of them, because of the curve, five points could be the difference between an A+ and a B. Of course, by my nature, I'm not all that competitive, so I was just with the Bs when I got them, but the gunners could get pretty worked up about it.

  2. "... just fine with the Bs ..."

    More caffeine please.

  3. Why is there only 0.1% chance that 5 points on a test will influence your final grade?

    The way I look at it (I'm at my last year of undergrad) is "A" minus 1 point equals "A-", so 5 points on a test probably affects 1/40 = 2.5% of what grad school you get into (1/40 because 40 courses).

    Or worse, it determines if you CAN get in grad school or not :P