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Wednesday, January 8, 2014


At a rare Cranky party last week, freezing on my deck smoking a cigar, I heard a story told by my friend, a chemical engineer.  If you are an engineer, I suspect you have already heard this story...bear with me.

A student in a mechanical engineering class complained to his professor that he failed a test, but he should have been given partial credit on a question where he only missed a minor calculation.  The professor’s answer,

“Mr. Higgins…let’s say you build a bridge, it is a beautiful bridge but you make one minor calculation error.  At the peak of the morning rush hour the bridge cannot handle the weight of all the cars and the bridge fails, it crumbles and 600 people die.  Should you get partial credit?”

Fortunately life is not always quite as severe as that of an engineer who makes an error; most of the time we get at least partial credit.

Except sometimes if you:

Strike a match before closing the cover.

Take a cold pill and drive heavy machinery.

Drink and drive.

Spoil your children.

Smoke in bed.

Don’t wear protection.

Cheat on your spouse.

Forget to put the safety on your pistol.

Drive a get-away car with vanity plates.

Publish a blog without proof-reading.

Most of the time life gives us a second chance, but perhaps we would all be better off if we lived it knowing you do not always get partial credit.


  1. Yikes! No partial credit? I'd still be a sophomore at Texas Tech if my professors had thought like that. I BS'd my way through more essay questions than you would believe, relying on getting at least partial credit.


  2. Nice take on partial credit. You're so right that there are quite a few things out there that just don't give you a second chance or credit for almost.

  3. most of us bloggers grade on a curve. :)

  4. You make a good point, but think about how much could be done if no one cared about who got credit.

  5. I don't need partial credit, because I always do EVERYTHING perfectly--well, maybe SOME things--I know I can do a COUPLE--oh, never mind!!

  6. I keep thinking of that expression we sometimes hear:
    "That's close enough for government work."

    GS absolutely hates it.

  7. This reminds me of a time when I was an accounts payable clerk and I had to go to my boss and tell her I had made a mistake. I was still pretty new, didn't know how she was going to take it, and felt just horrible about having made that mistake.

    She laughed, told me to relax, and said: "Everything in accounting is reversible. Any mistake can be fixed. That's the reason I became an accountant instead of a brain surgeon."

  8. I had a professor exactly like that. Half way through a hundred question test, I didn't know one answer so I skipped it. However, I failed to drop down one place on the answer sheet so that the rest of my answers were off by one, thus all wrong. When I proved all my following answers really were correct and asked for at least partial credit, she told me I was being failed for not following directions. Sigh.

  9. Partial credit sometimes just isn't warranted and sometimes there is too much credit. I do like that most of the time we get that second chance to get it right.

    Have a fabulous day and thanks for visiting Comedy Plus. ☺

  10. Oh I love your header. They do look alike. ☺

  11. I had a college professor who told us that one semester his final exam consisted of one question: "Why?"

    Students filled those blue composition books from cover to cover. Some started with creation and expounded on their belief/evidence of a divine being. Others recounted the rise of civilization, and great battles in history. Only one student got the right answer and passed the exam. The answer? "Because."

    I'm not sure of his point, but it seems the professor did not give partial credit.

  12. Some professors really suck. If that one had any brains he'd know that no engineer can do all perfectly, that's why there's inspections and reviews.

    I once started on the path of engineering. But I got over it.

  13. Jobs without partial credit include high responsibility, high status ones like surgeons and pilots, and high responsibility low status ones like bus and train drivers. I'm like the accountant in the comment above - I like mid-level responsibility, mid-level status, and partial credit allowance.


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