what if your teacher matches the answers?

Thread Starter


Joined Apr 15, 2011
I'll side with you to some extent, but before I do, I'll acknowledge SgtWookie's, someonesdad's and other's points as being very very important. In the real world, the right answer is critical.

But there is another side to the story. First, students aren't working on real problems that have to be correct, or else life, limb and property are lost. Second, in the real world, problems are not solved in 15 minutes and there is adequate opportunity to check and recheck the answer and the method (which is just as important) and to work more methodically and sure-footedly with a calm mind, in the first place. Third, University courses often have 2 exams only with only 4 problems on each test. A student is capable of making one minor mistake on each exam, and they go from an A to a C in grade. If they make two minor mistakes on each exam, then they get an F. It seems unfair to me that a person who may know the material very well, but is a little absent minded, can fail. I say this because how do you compare this type of person with a slacker who fails because he put no effort in. This failure may even be the impetus to drive him/her out of school altogether either out of frustration or as university policy.

The example I'll give is my sophomore year circuits class (simple RLC circuits and Laplace transforms). I knew the circuit material very well even before I went to university, but Laplace Transforms were new to me, and I studied hard on those. The first exam had a long drawn out calculation with LaPlace transforms. I did everything correctly over three pages of calculus and algebra. Halfway through, a quantity that was cubed in the denominator of a long expression got switched to be a square by accident (so a 3 became a 2 by typographical error). So, the final answer was correct with the exception of this 2 that should have been three. So, I received 0 out of 25 points for that problem and my grade was a C for this midterm exam. On the final exam, I made 2 similar mistakes and got 50/100, which is an F. So, my grade for the class was a D, which was unusual for me.

I always felt that this grade of D did not reflect the knowledge I gained and the work I put into that class, but I didn't complain about it and never looked back. I now feel that I didn't need this D to understand the importance of getting the answer right, but who knows, maybe the lesson is buried deep and my mind, and the teacher's policy is correct.

But the bottom line is that you can't fight the system. Just do your best and take your lumps when they come. When you don't give up, you always come out the winner.
At least someone spoke what I would have if my English and communication skills weren't that bad! Thank you for this. The instructor which prompted me to start this thread failed many students in the past; sometimes 70% of the class. And some of those students were good in their studies. I have heard some instructors use such a policy of matching end answers only to facilitate themselves because this way they don't have to go through every step of the solution. Other thing is that if an instructor demands such high standards from his students (rather slaves) then his/her teaching capability should also meet those high standards which he/she sets himself/herself for his students. What if the instructor himself/herself sucks?! Doesn't even know how to solve a problem properly.

Comparing real world scenario with exams is not good, in my humble opinion. Because in real world everything is counterchecked many times. You are to some degree relaxed etc. Why do they have so many programs out there? If you are asked to find current through a 4Ω resistor when a certain voltage is applied, you may very well know that you have to use Ohm's law. But what if you make an error and use 5Ω resistor instead? Would such a student be given nil marks?!

I hope now this discussion is balanced and many arguments made in previous postings have been rebutted.

Thank you all for your time.

Best wishes


Joined Jul 22, 2007
A lot of things look good on paper, but it costs a lot of time and money to correct later. College isn't just about correct typing, memorizing equations, it's about learning mental discipline, about learning how to think, and educate yourself. You can memorize a book full of equations, but useless knowledge, if you don't understand how to use them, or what sort of results to expect. There are usually some remedies, if you think you were unfairly marked or failed, and of course, you can always take the class over...

Exams are the test of how well you learned the material. There is usually course work and quizzes to prepare you for the exams. Usually get to make a few mistakes, and correct them, before you are faced with exams.


Joined Nov 28, 2009
You got the answer wrong but you want credit for a correct answer.
I believe it could have not been a logic question because this makes no logic!

Ask the instructor if there is any extra-credit projects you may perform to prove your knowledge of the subject.

It's worth a try.


Joined Jul 3, 2008
You got the answer wrong but you want credit for a correct answer.
I believe it could have not been a logic question because this makes no logic!
Don't be silly! Of course it's a logical question. The object of taking classes and taking tests is not just to get the correct answer. It is to actually learn and to demonstrate that you have learned something. This can sometimes happen without a correct answer, and a correct answer can be obtained with very little learning, for that matter.

I once had to argue with a teacher to get at least some credit for a correct answer. He gave me 5 out of 25 points for a 100% correct answer. He said my work was too sloppy and the method was not 100% clear and easy to follow. Further, he said that this was the first problem on the test, so it should be the neatest. I told him that I skipped that problem and went back to it at the end. Time was short so I worked quickly, and that's why it was sloppy. I then stepped him through the work on the page and showed him that my method was 100% correct, and the answer was 100% correct, even if the layout was sloppy. He still wouldn't budge. I was ready to walk away and accept my loss, but then I thought I would give it one more try. Twenty six years later, I still remember my exact words. I said,

"You know, I can understand losing some points for sloppiness. Just the fact that I was rushed at the end shows that I don't deserve as much credit as someone else who was not rushed. But, I lost almost full credit for a correct answer."

Without saying a word, he then added 10 points to the score on my test and handed it back, then he changed the grade in his book and then he looked up and smiled at me. I said thank you and left. I felt good, but still I had a 90, not a 100, even though I had 4 answers that were 100% correct.

The professor was trying to teach me a lesson, just as other professors try to teach a lesson by insisting that the answer be 100% correct. Basically, it all matters. The thinking, the method, the answer and the presentation with clarity are all important in the real world.

So the question is logical, but the answer is not straightforward. Many things must be balanced, and giving partial credit for getting some of the important things correct is not illogical. It can be argued that piling up the entire load on the side that says only the answer is important is not a balanced approach. In fact, such an approach will weed the creative types of people right out of the program and leave the mindless machines that can turn the crank on command, without error. But engineering is about a lot more than turning the cranks on other people's machines.


Joined Jul 3, 2008
There can be multiple right answers people!
Absolutely correct! Which means the question is a valid and logical question worthy of discussing.

It's actually good that there is more than one answer because this results in every professor adopting a slightly different policy. This automatically provides balance. If one professor's style does not work well for some students then they need only to survive that one class and they can excel in other classes. in the end the students learn all of these important lessons we are mentioning.