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Classic 'Blue Books' Turn Yellow

Move Is Prompted by Effort to Cut Costs

By Haibin Jiu

Harvard students have been known to get the exam blues--particularly at midterm time. But this year, they won't be getting exam booklets to match their mood.

Because this year, the famed examination "blue books" are yellow.

Joseph D. Maruca, assistant registrar of classrooms, examinations and registration, said yesterday that the switch from blue books to yellow ones was primarily driven by economic concerns.

The true difference, Maruca said, lies not in the color, but in the size of the books. The 32-page blue books are more expensive than the 16-page yellow ones, he said.

And since most students don't use all 32 pages, the yellow books are more cost-effective, Maruca said.

"Midyear exams are larger, so we will use blue books for them," Maruca said. "If students need more pages than provided, they can always ask for more books from their TFs," who usually "take more books than they need anyway."

"My predecessor ordered these two colors," Maruca said of the yellow and blue books. "I assume for the reason that it is easier to count [the books]," said Maruca.

But Maruca said that the switch will only be temporary. By next fall, he said, Harvard will receive a new order of 16-page blue books. "I want to use up all the books in the inventory before ordering new ones," he said.

Maruca downplayed the significance of the books' colors and said that he did not consider the psychological implications of the different hues.

Although the switch did not escape the attention of midterm takers, the change did not elicit particularly emotional responses.

"I really don't care," said Pete Capozzella '93. "Exam books are exam books. After you open the cover, they look the same inside."

"It doesn't bother me at all," said Daniel Weiner '92. "If I run out of pages, I will get another book. Besides, it's nice to have a little change."

"I think it's sort of silly to have yellow `blue' books," said Kate O'Sullivan '93. But, she added, "I don't care whether they switch back to blue books or not."

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