When a Maryland community college student saw on his syllabus that he could bring a “3×5 card” to an exam, he saw a key loophole and took advantage of the opportunity.
Elijah Bowen’s professor at Anne Arundel Community College, Reb Beatty, told students that they could bring a “3×5 card” to aid them during the upcoming exam — but he meant inches.
Bowen noticed that his professor didn’t specify metrics and instead brought in a 3×5 foot card, which helped him successfully pass his first exam of the semester on Tuesday in his Financial Accounting class.
“[Professor Beatty] mentioned it in class first and he said, ‘a 3 by 5 note card,’ but he didn’t say inches,” Bowen, 17, recalled. “Then in every email that he sent to the students — he sends about four to five reminders — I saw that every single one said ‘3 by 5’ and it never said ‘3 by 5 inches.’ That’s what sparked my idea.”
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And even though he spotted the loophole, the Friendship, Maryland student was unsure if his poster board would actually be allowed into the exam. Still, the night before the big test, he spent more than an hour creating his “card.”
When Bowen walked into class the next day, he said his classmates immediately started Snapchatting the moment.
Professor Beatty told ABC News he walked in 10 minutes before the exam was slated to begin. He figured Bowen’s poster board “was one of his study mechanisms, and he was using it for the last few minutes to cram,” Beatty said.
But when he realized that Bowen intended to use it during the exam, he initially cried foul. Bowen then explained that he never specified “inches” on his syllabus, in class or in the reminder emails.
After Beatty confirmed his student was correct, he allowed him to use the card — but only in the back of the classroom, where other students couldn’t peek over.
Elijah BowenElijah Bowen’s 3×5 foot card in which he used for his first test of the semester at Anne Arundel Community College on Sept. 19, 2017.
“It was fabulous. I was shocked,” Bowen said of being allowed to use the card. “I gave it about a 5 percent chance he’d let me use it.”
He added that he “did well” on the exam, scoring a 140 out of 150.
And Beatty took the incident in good stride. In the end, he was impressed with Bowen.
“I was actually very happy for him,” he said. “You have to have a student with the intelligence to recognize the loophole, and then have the audacity to put it together and come in and try it.”
Beatty shared the moment on Facebook, where it went viral, with more than 28,000 people sharing the story. He did, however, then immediately correct his syllabi and test instruction pages.