We all hate final exams. These “final” exams represent the end of the semester. One of approximately eight that you will be facing at Madison. That being said, in some cases the word “final” has a bit more gravity.
Take this example. Held entirely online, Physics 291 was generally successful, but nobody seemed to enjoy learning from their crotchety old professor. Long time physics instructor Alfred Zayne had recently turned 87 and had been feeling somewhat ill. With the rise in COVID cases and his fate accepted, he realized. “OK, this is my final final exam. I’ll likely not make it to May ‘21. I’d better make it good. And juicy.”
With the assistance of eleven TA’s whose main purpose was to pick pen colors for grading, Dr. Zayne decided to throw down all the questions about quantum theory he could think of, as well as items covered only in Chapter 49 of their $440 textbook that he had secretly wanted to test people on since he was a spry guy of 60.
With only 2 hours to complete the exam, third-year student Corbin Wallaby, who was holding an AB, opened his exam and immediately passed out. There were 178 questions, all of them short-answer, and at least half of them required knowledge of a class at least three semesters down the road.
After the final bell, and having only answered 24 of them, Corbin flopped onto his bed and began to accept his grim fate. But he was enthused the following day, when he checked Canvas and saw that the average was a 9 out of 100.
However, Corbin burst into tears again when the professor announced that, since he was dying, he’d do what he’d always secretly wanted to do: fail everyone, no curve. While there are rules disallowing excessively hard exams without curves, Dr. Zayne soon made a statement that since everything on the exam was in the nearly 1,500-page textbook, it was fair game for the final. While virtually all students thought this was incredibly unfair and intended to protest, Dr. Zayne tragically died on December 20th, leaving any chance of renegotiations or regrades moot, and his life’s ambition fulfilled.