COMMENTARY: The Make-Up Test

Chad and his three friends were college seniors and doing well in their classes. Even though the final physics exam was on Monday, Chad persuaded his buddies to take a weekend trip several hundred miles away. He told his worried friends they could study in the car, during the trip, and when they got back Sunday night. Instead, the boys partied all weekend. By Sunday night, they knew they weren’t ready for the exam.

Chad, an A student, told them to relax. He had a plan. He called the professor at home Monday morning and told him they were on the road and ready to take the final, but they’d had a flat tire. They didn’t have a spare and couldn’t get help. Chad persuaded the professor to let them take a make-up exam the following day.

When they showed up, the professor placed them in separate rooms and handed each a test booklet. They were relieved that the first problem, worth 5 points, was simple. They were less pleased when they read the second problem, worth 95 points: “Which tire was flat, and what time did the repair truck come?”

Chad’s exam had an additional note: “Chad, I just received a reference request for you from Harvard. How you do on this exam will determine how I fill it out.”

Then he added a P.S.: “You took two exams today. One was on physics. The other was on integrity. It would have been much better if you only flunked physics.”

Kids will be kids, but all choices have consequences. Chad and his buddies took a risk by not studying, but they took a greater one when they made up a phony excuse.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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