Every year, hundreds of snakes—that is, econ-interested Harvard students—hail from near and far to learn from their fearlessssssssssss leader Gregory Mankiw as they undertake Ec10a and b. On Wednesday, March 28th, they gathered at the witching hour of 7:40 p.m. to battle it out and prove themselves on the Ec10b midterm. In an attempt to learn more about the culture of the prospective members of one of Harvard’s most notorious concentrations, Flyby went undercover to the midterm with open ears.

On Mindset

“You ready?”

“Well, I guess now I have to be.”

We suppose there’s something to be said for blatant honesty...at this point there’s not much you can do anyway.

“I’m scared.”

Honestly, aren’t we all?

On Preparation

“Did you study at all?”

“Eh, a little bit. I did the unit reviews, which were actually pretty helpful. I mean, I didn’t actually go to them, but I did them afterward.”

“Well, I actually went to the unit reviews.”

“Wow, you go hard!”

The bar is set pretty low if going to low-commitment, high-reward review sessions is now considered “going hard”, but all the best to you in your future pursuits. You might just be the one ec kid that doesn’t get a freshman summer internship at BCG—bummer.

On Knowledge

“What’s 1 divided by 0.05?”


“Well, using fractions is always a good way to start.”

On the course description it says, “We will not use calculus.” But maybe some basic algebra skills would be helpful?

“It’s high low low high.”

“No, it’s low high high low.”

“Wait, no, I think it might be the opposite…”

Sounds a bit like how your mood and stress levels might go as you take the midterm if you’re this unsure this late in the game.

On Strategic Seating

“We should sit here! This is like where we sit for Hebrew Bible!”

Psychology definitely says that you should sit in the same seat for both lectures and tests, but I’m not sure if this recommendation stands across subjects. Although the more you think about it, aren’t Ec and Hebrew Bible both just classes for people trying to find the easiest path towards the most reward in life?

An alternative strategy to choosing a seat:

“It might just be a random seat, but I need it!”

Because by some crazy magic, exam rooms are packed, while during lecture the only person around is Mankiw—except sometimes he isn’t either.

On Grading

“If you’re in my grading group, you’re going to be just fine.”

Ah yes, you’ve always got to find those people in your grading group who make the rest of you look great. AVOID SECTION KID AT ALL COSTS.

“Dude, wreck the curve for me.”

Would it even be a Harvard exam if there wasn’t some discussion of the curve?

Now that the exam is over, all that was left to do was sit and wait and hope that the Ec gods blessed you with a grading group that makes your mediocre score look good. To all the ec-devoted students out there, we hope the curve was in your favor!