This week I received the alumni news from my high school, Chaminade, an all-male Catholic institution on Long Island. Photos from this year’s graduation graced the cover dated July 2013. Normal stuff. Then this:
[Guy's name] who graduated with a four-year cumulative average of 100 percent, is shown at left…
To explain the magnitude of this let me state that at Chaminade, averages are kept in tenths and even hundredths of a point and are displayed with pride in the entry foyer. In addition, in an average year, 99 percent of the graduating class goes on to college, and about 1 percent, every year, are appointed to service academies. In other words, this place is highly competitive and the kids are pretty dang smart.
I had to do the math. To get credit for a 100 percent average over four years, this dude had to average over 99.95 percent, otherwise, it would have been rounded down to 99.9. I made some assumptions with regard to the number of tests and quizzes per week and I estimate that he answered a total of 186,480 questions in his four years. Over that time period he only got fewer than 93 answers wrong.
Wait, it gets better.
If tradition at the school holds, each subject has a comprehensive exam at the end of the year which accounts for 50 percent of the grade for the year. By comprehensive, I mean comprehensive. The test includes questions about material taught from September through June. Again, making some assumptions about questions per test over the four years, I estimate about 7,000 questions. To achieve the necessary 99.95 percent, he would be allowed to get three or fewer of the 7,000 answers incorrect over the four year period.
[Guy's name] is off to Columbia in the Fall.
Disclaimer: In speaking with a classmate of mine he offered some additional thoughts:
- Standards at the school may have changed in a few ways: a) Extra credit and makeup work were not an option when we attended. If this is no longer the case 100 percent is a bit more doable. b) Grading standards may be relaxed as well. Meaning, this 100 percent may be based on an over 99.5 percent average.
- If anything my assumption with regard to the number of questions may be on the low side by a factor almost two, meaning the total number of question could be near 350,000.
PS – This post would receive a grade of 90 or so, due to excessive use of the passive voice. Way too many usages of the very “to be.” Be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being.