ROCKEFELLER HALL—After a semester in which the bulk of the material was pushed to the last few days of class, Professor James Kent ‘88 has decided the best solution is to just assume all his students know it anyways and put it all in the final exam.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t get to this material in class,” explained Professor Kent to his Monday Economics section. “But these six chapters are no more dense than the six chapters we covered in the three months prior to now. Therefore, we should have no trouble skimming through all six in one fifty-minute lecture, holding one office hours section, and then basing sixty percent of your grade on that knowledge I never taught.”
Professor Kent then moved on to a lecture in which he, at the speed of a freshman sprinting across the Arts Quad, described in vague detail everything from GDP calculation to Philips curves to applications of economic theory to modern politics. Students furiously scribbled in notebooks as the professor casually mentioned concepts on which he would base entire free response questions on the class’s cumulative exam in one week.
“Honestly, I got about a third of that,” admitted Matthew Kroger ‘25. “He lost me at the inflation stuff, and I had no idea what to make of the whole Krebs cycle thing. I think he accidentally started teaching us biology there for a few minutes, but I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with supply and demand? Seriously, is this what college is? Like, sure, I haven’t shown up to most of my sections, but I expected better from a tenured professor.” At the time, Professor Kent was giving a one-minute overview of game theory, a topic that would make up about a third of the final exam.
Asked to comment, Professor Kent stated that he is aware that the grades on the final will likely be abysmal, but that he was planning on curving everyone’s grade to a C+ anyways.
BAKER LAB — In the lecture following their second prelim, pre-med student Aaron Hale ‘23 nervously reassured his CHEM 2070 classmates that, despite missing the prelim last Thursday, the curve should definitely bring him up to at least a C.
“I mean, basically the same thing happened last time,” muttered Hale to himself, whose grade was curved from 63% to 78% on the first prelim. “I’m sure a 0% should curve to at least a 65% on this exam, right? I can’t be the only one who slept through it, right!?”
According to Hale’s roommate, Joshua Park ‘23, Hale, who had only gotten three hours of sleep the night before, left dinner at 7:15 on Thursday to “cram” for his 7:30 exam, only to be found asleep on a couch in the Appel lounge at 7:25.
“When he came back I asked him how the prelim went, but he kept avoiding the question,” recalled Park. “Instead, he just spent, like, twenty minutes explaining that seeing your GPA improve over time is ‘actually a positive for med school.’”
At press time, Hale was seen nervously refreshing his r/cornell Reddit post asking how much freshman year grades “really matter” for medical school admissions.
WILLARD STRAIGHT HALL – To address student mental health concerns during prelim season, the Entomology Department has begun hosting animal therapy sessions in Willard Straight Hall with gigantic, droning swarms of bees.
Department chair Bryan Danforth cited the short supply of therapy dogs on campus as inspiration for the idea.“We asked ourselves, ‘Why should students huddle around two or three puppies when they could just be swarmed by literally thousands of fuzzy little bees?’”
Students have received the bees with great enthusiasm. “After a few stings, you start to go entirely numb,” noted Jacob O’Rourke ‘19. “Once my throat closed up, my CS 3110 prelim was the least of my concerns!”
Commenting on the program’s success, Intro to Insect Behavior professor Ken Crawley remarked, “In lecture, my students can barely stay awake, but during these sessions, they’re galloping around the room, flailing their arms frantically in excitement.” Several of Professor Crawley’s students missed their Tuesday prelim due to hospitalization, but he commended their exuberance in the presence of insects.
After one of the bee colonies unexpectedly escaped, the department reassured students across campus that if a swarm of bees enters your 8am lecture, just remember they’re only there to calm and support you.
LEWIS AUDITORIUM — Just barely putting his notes away in time before the TA handed out the midterm, Justin Solotoff ’17 dismissed his neighbor’s assertive comment that Solotoff should have started studying earlier for the exam.
“I didn’t cram,” whispered Solotoff as he opened his blue book. “I started studying a whole hour ago.”
Solotoff’s roommates confirmed that last night, when they expressed concern over whether or not their friend would have enough time to study, he assured them that he knew what he was doing.
“We saw his textbook still in its original wrapping and knew he hadn’t started preparing, but he kept telling us that he first had to complete two problem sets and a response paper before he could begin even thinking about his exam,” said roommate Adam Trelly. “And just last week he told me he was going to improve his study habits.”
When questioned what would constitute actual cramming, Solotoff referenced a prelim that he took last week: “I skimmed the summary of the course objectives in the syllabus as I walked into the exam room. I think it’s pretty safe to call that ‘cramming.’”
Solotoff was later seen busy writing an essay in 30pt font with four inch-margins for a five-page assignment due the following morning.
RHODES HALL – With increasing likelihood that she will bomb her upcoming prelim, Shari Miller ’19, who has a perfectly clear, helpful, and approachable TA in Math 1110, is out of excuses for her inability to comprehend the material.
“The problem is I simply can understand everything my TA says during discussion. It’s infuriating,” said Miller, who has a well-rated professor and never opened the textbook.
While the prestige of Cornell’s math department draws distinguished scholars from all over the globe, Miller was unfortunate enough to receive an equally capable TA from the United States without any sort of dialect or accent, but with remarkable reviews from mid-semester TA evaluations.
“If I just had a Russian or Chinese TA that I couldn’t always understand, all of my problems would be solved,” lamented Miller, whose problems would admittedly still remain unsolved, but with the impression that it’s not entirely her fault.
Miller plans to forget to bring her calculator to the prelim, hoping the sympathy drawn from her peers will outweigh the judgment from scoring far below what she is capable of.
OLIN LIBRARY — So prelims are in the news again. Crazy, huh? Am I right?
You ever notice that professors try to schedule exams at the same time? Ugh, give me a break!
These guys know what I’m talking about.
Why are they even called prelims? What about current-lims? I’m not making this up, folks!
Prelims? More like pre-LAME. Heh.
Also, you hear it’s starting to get cold out? Don’t even get me started!
OLIN LIBRARY — Those people tossing around a frisbee on the arts quad are probably having a lot of fun, even though I have to stay in the library. I’m going to look back down at my work now.
Oh look they’re eating something. Are those chocolate chip cookies? Probably. But it’s too bad I can’t go out and join them because I’ve been busy every day doing that club thing that I don’t even like, but at least it’s going to look good on my resume. Look at the smile on that guy’s face; when was the last time I smiled?
Now there’s a dog walking by too; damn straight it’s going to go play with them. Look how fluffy it is, but I can’t pet it because I’m stuck inside doing my problem set. Did that dog just catch the frisbee in its mouth and bring it back? Of course it did.
I should probably get back to my work, I don’t want to see that hot guy walk down the path and play with the dog and the frisbee. Oh, there he is! That could be me.
IVES HALL – Following a poor grade on his latest ILR prelim, Lenny Holt ’18 was reported as feeling surprisingly okay, under the realization that a bad grade wasn’t going to ruin his life and there were worse situations to be in.
Given this new perspective, Holt allegedly went on to take a deep breath and close his eyes for a few seconds, while acknowledging how thankful he was for being able to attend such an incredible school, with such incredible people, and how grateful he was for being in good health.
Holt then confirmed that his prelim score would make up twenty percent of his final class grade, five percent of his semester grade, and about half a percentage point of his overall collegiate GPA, which when thought about in such a way really took some of the pressure off the second-semester sophomore.
It was later reported that Holt skipped his 1:25 class to spend time playing frisbee with some friends on the arts quad, recognizing that companionship and enjoying all the world has to give is sometimes more important than stressing about academics.