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4:50pm on Monday, 11th June, 2007:



Today was a big day for marking at the university, as examination results had to be in by 5pm. I had a bunch of programming scripts to second-mark (ie. check arithmetic for), plus I had mark an entire third of one candidate's paper that I had neglected to mark the first time round (fortunately, the second-marker for that paper spotted it).

One thing I'd done wrong was that I'd rounded off the mark totals to full marks. It turns out I was supposed to round them to one decimal place. Given that the marks for the papers overall are out of 300, so you divide by 3 to get the percentage, this means marks end either in .0, .3 or .6. For a paper with 15 candidates, that means a third of the marks should have been fine (no rounding) and the other two thirds should have needed to be rewritten as they'd have been rounded too much.

Naturally, out of the 15 candidates on that paper, only two of them had marks ending in .0, with all the rest either .3 or .6.

Why does simple probability always work against me?

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).