“Do You Have Time For Spring Fling?”: Basic Algebra and Time Management

Alexander Hoyle ’13 sent in this HTML guide to time management this week, especially pertinent with Spring Fling on Thursday. Alexander Hoyle ’13 apparently approaches things pretty methodically. If you do too, enjoy the data:

So, crunch time is upon us, as you are all well
aware. As such, you might be wondering just how to budget your time and what
grades you can stand to get in each of your classes. Well, there is a
relatively simple way to do so. First off, you need to break out the syllabi
for your respective courses. For each course, you’ll want to list of the grades
obtained so far, in addition to the grade breakdown from each syllabus. Then,
translate every letter grade into a numerical percentage (i.e, A = 95, B+ = 87,

Let’s use our pal Giant Joint here as an example.
GJ is taking English, Math, History, and Bio. Let us look at his English
breakdown below:



4 Essays: 15% each

85, 87, 95, 95

Participation: 10%


Final Exam: 30%



We want to make an equation that will represent
his ultimate grade as dependent upon his final exam; let’s call the final exam x
and the final grade y:

y = (85+87+95+95)*.15 +
(90)*.10 + x*.30

As you can see, the equation is the sum of all
(Grade)*(Percentage/100). If you plug this into wolframalpha.com,
you will see a nice graph that you can mouse over. As you move along the
vertical x-axis representing GJs potential exam grade, the value on the
horizontal y-axis will represent your final grade. Just repeat for the
rest of your courses. Let’s do the same for Giant Joint:

y = (85+87+95+95)*.15 + (90)*.10 + x*.30

y = (85)*.20 + (90)*.30 + x*.50

y = (95+95+95+95)*.20 + (100)*.10 + x*.10

y = (87+92+87)*.25 + x*.25

So, the more your final counts, the steeper the
graph. That is to say, a slight difference in your final exam will have a large
effect on your final grade with a steep graph, and the opposite goes for a more
horizontal line. For
Giant Joint
, his Math grade depends a lot on his final exam, whereas his
History final exam has little effect.

Most of you probably have an idea of what you want
to get in each course, depending on your major, or what have you. So does Giant
Joint. In case you haven’t figured it out, you can set y equal to what
you want your grade to be in order to determine what you need to get on the
final exam (Wolfram will solve for you). Below is the grade table for Giant


Desired Grade

Final Exam Score Required














Clearly, he can blow off History but needs to work
hard in Bio to net that A-. You can do the same and just allot your time
accordingly. Essentially, you want the courses in which your grade is most
certain to be scheduled the least amount of time and effort.

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10 thoughts on ““Do You Have Time For Spring Fling?”: Basic Algebra and Time Management

  1. anon

    There’s an error where you describe the graph. It’s the HORIZONTAL x-axis, and VERTICAL y-axis…

  2. Ayn Rand

    But where’s the formula for the function that shows predicted exam score based on time studying ?

  3. Anon

    what’s problematic is if you have a participation grade because undoubtedly the professor will be biased to overlook it if you do well otherwise and lower it if you do well on that, but not well on the stuff that “counts”

  4. blah

    i used to do this exact formula in high school all the time. but i’ve probs only used it 2x in the last 4 years. science classes only. it’s too formulaic, irrelevent for sbs and humanities (hum hum dee dum)

  5. Hoyle

    Sorry the formatting’s weird. Don’t know what happened there. Wrote this up in HS for a math class and tweaked it for Wes a little.

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