How I Turned a ‘C’ into an ‘A’

When I was taking a course in algorithms many years ago I discovered an awesome opportunity.

Early on during the course, everyone, including the instructor noticed that the data structures text we were to study from was riddled with errors. Not just a few, but hundreds! It’s as if the authors did not use an editor and/or were extremely sloppy. They definitely did not unit test any of the code in the book.

I tried searching for the text online for a photo but I can’t find it. Anyway, as an incentive the instructor set up a website area where you could post errata, and students would be awarded one point to your final grade in the course for every ten errors found. The criteria was specific, such as each error must be new, clearly defined, etc. This incentive was provided perhaps two days prior to the final exam. Later that night I thought this incentive was extraordinarily generous. I’m thinking “Sweet! Easy ‘A’!”. I think my grade was hovering around high C as I am not good with academics and testing (too much too fast).

And so, I spent several hours that night trudging through the entire text and posting several hundred errata, ensuring that I would get an ‘A’ for the class. I get into class the next morning and everyone was flabbergasted that I posted such a ridiculous amount of errata as everyone else posted only a handful. I’m not sure why no one else saw this opportunity. However, the instructor then said that the max # of points that could be awarded was 20.

I still got an ‘A’ for the class and was happy to see an opportunity and follow it to success.