In an institution as competitive as UC Berkeley, few students are strangers to imposter syndrome: the crippling fear that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or likable enough to be here. Trust me, I’m no stranger to this phenomenon. But last week, after years of continuous inadequacy, I finally found redemption when I aced my three-question Google Form syllabus quiz for my American Cultures breadth.

Some say that finals and midterms determine academic success, but the real hallmark of knowledge is the humble syllabus quiz. It sets the tone for your ranking in the rest of the course–nay, the rest of your life. Sure, down the line, I might fail both my midterm and final, but the syllabus quiz demonstrates a meta-level mastery of course content. I’d rather memorize the minimum grades I need to get to pass a class than spend extra time studying concepts I’ll never be able to understand anyway. 

To ace these quizzes, I’ve developed a meticulous strategy to impress my professors and outperform my classmates. Rather than finishing my first discussion post or going to lecture, I spend my time re-reading the “Extensions” and “Homework Drops” sections of the syllabus, highlighting the exact amount of days I can hand my assignments in late and the number of problem sets I can neglect. I look at which parts of the course have the least weight in my final grade, take a thick permanent marker, and cross them out on the syllabus while muting assignment notifications on bCourses. 

Some quizzes will even have open feedback questions at the end, asking for questions or concerns about the course. Best of all, syllabus quizzes lend themselves well to my favorite test-taking strategy: pressing refresh and taking the quiz until I ace it because I can resubmit the Google Form as many times as I want to. Above all else, my favorite part of syllabus quizzes are their progressive understanding of learning and grading. Instead of subscribing to archaic models of success, syllabus quizzes innovate into new frontiers of higher education – unlimited attempts and one-mark participation grades on Gradescope.

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