Students in exam time loop

December 11, 1998


Sitting among his 500 peers at the University of Melbourne, the computing engineering student gazed at the final examination paper in horror.

"Oh God!" he muttered. "This is just like the exam I failed last yearI" In fact, it was exactly the same paper: the 1997 examination paper had been reprinted and handed round to this year's crop of tense examinees.

Some students saw the date on the front cover and thought it was a misprint. Others were thrilled: these were the same questions they had just been answering as part of their revision for the course. However, their delight was short-lived.

To their fury, other students raised their hands to enquire about the date.

When the error was pointed out, there was a dreadful silence while staff investigated. Then it was announced the exam had been cancelled and would have to be held again.

An embarrassed university spokeswoman denied that reissuing old exam papers was a novel method of saving money or that the mistake was ever likely to be repeated - certainly not in computing engineering.

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