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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My sole intention

Back at high school I was, liek, uber-competitive. Every time we got an assignment or test back, I would go around asking people what their mark was in order to ascertain whether I got the top mark. In each subject I knew just who to ask, and I kept a record of those people's marks to see whether I was coming top in the subject or not. In my defense, I had a particular goal for the year: I wanted to be Dux. For this goal it didn't matter a jot whether I was smart or had any skills, so long as my grades were above everyone else's.

Since then my priorities have changed. I view as wasted an assignment where I don't make any mistake. I'd rather spend four hours wrestling with a concept than ten minutes writing down a correct answer, if the wrestling means I get a better understanding of the concept. And needless to say, I no longer give two pins where my grade falls relative to my classmates'.

Consequently, it's entirely owing to the investigative efforts of other people that I've found out that my grade for the Macro essay is, quite possibly, the highest in the class. Just like me at high school, a group of my classmates have asked around everyone they consider likely to have got a good grade. So far, mine is the only A.

Honestly, this doesn't change my feelings about my own grade at all. I did some hard work, I got a nice result, and I felt that the one justified the other. End of story. But I can't help being puzzled about the apparent dearth of other high grades in the class. My classmates are a smart bunch. Some of them have the technical skills, unlike me, to understand the econometrics of the paper we were reviewing. Some of them have studied some humanities, like me, and know how to write well. I wouldn't lay money that these two skillsets are mutually exclusive among the class. So why no more A's? Did the paper leave them cold? Did they have other important things to do at the time? Or was the grading done particularly hard?

Most likely, though, there's someone else out there - someone who hasn't been asked - secretly nursing another A (or even an A+!). Two A's in a class of 14 is reasonable, I think. I assume that the other just hasn't been uncovered yet by my classmate-sleuths.

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