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The Tiny Font and the Magnifying Glass

Teaching computer science has brought me countless moments of amusement, and one particular exam incident stands out as a perfect blend of ingenuity and hilarity.


Before an exam, I informed my students that they could bring an index card with notes to help them during the test. Little did I know that this seemingly simple allowance would lead to an interesting moment.

As the students filed into the exam hall, I noticed one of them, let's call him Alex, holding an index card that seemed different from the rest. Upon closer inspection, I couldn't help but chuckle at the sight - the writing on the card was microscopic!

Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to inquire about his creative approach to the index card strategy. With a sheepish grin, Alex admitted that he had condensed his notes to fit as much information as possible on the card. But here's the kicker - he had brought a magnifying glass with him, hoping it would allow him to read his notes during the exam!



In all my years of teaching, I had never seen such a resourceful attempt to maximize the potential of an index card. It was a moment of amusement for the entire class, and I had to applaud Alex's inventiveness and was glad when he agreed to letting me take a picture of his index card and magnifying class (pictured above).

Of course, as entertaining as the incident was, it served as a valuable reminder of the importance of studying for actual knowledge rather than focusing solely on grades. While the index card allowance was meant to aid students in recalling essential information during the exam, it was never intended as a substitute for thorough understanding.

The moral of the story is clear - relying solely on last-minute memorization tricks may get you through an exam, but it won't provide you with the genuine knowledge and comprehension needed for long-term success.


My recommendation to all students is to prioritize learning for the sake of knowledge itself. Embrace the material, delve into its intricacies, and aim to understand the concepts thoroughly. By doing so, you'll not only excel in exams but also develop a deeper appreciation for the subject and its practical applications.


So, while Alex's index card and magnifying glass incident brought a smile to our faces, it also served as a valuable lesson for all of us. As you embark on your academic journey, remember that genuine learning goes beyond exam tricks and shortcuts. Embrace the joy of knowledge, and let your passion for the subject drive your studies. The result? True expertise and a fulfilling educational experience that lasts a lifetime.


The tale of the tiny font and the magnifying glass is one that I will always remember fondly. Alex's creative attempt to maximize his index card space brought laughter to the exam hall, but it also highlighted the importance of studying for real understanding rather than relying solely on exam tactics. As educators, let's continue to encourage our students to study for knowledge, not just grades, and instill in them a lifelong love for learning.

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