When a Maryland community college student saw on his syllabus that he could take a "3x5 card" to an exam, he saw a loophole and took advantage of the opportunity.
Reb Beatty, one of Elijah Bowen’s professors at Anne Arundel Community College, told students that they could bring a card to aid them during the upcoming exam, and he meant 3 by 5 inches.
Bowen noticed that Beatty didn't specify a measurement and took in a 3 by 5 foot card, which helped him pass his first exam of the semester on Tuesday in his financial accounting class.
"[Beatty] mentioned it in class first, and he said 'a 3 by 5 note card,' but he didn't say 'inches,'" Bowen, 17, recalled. "Then in every email that he sent to the students — he sends about four to five reminders — I saw that every single one said '3 by 5' and it never said '3 by 5 inches.' That's what sparked my idea."
You have to have a student with the intelligence to recognize the loophole and then have the audacity to put it together and come in a try it.
And even though he spotted the loophole, Bowen, from Friendship, Maryland, was unsure if his posterboard would be allowed into the room for the exam. Still, the night before the big test, he spent more than an hour creating his "card."
When Bowen walked into class the next day, he said, his classmates immediately started Snapchatting the moment.
Beatty told ABC News he walked in 10 minutes before the exam was slated to begin. He said he thought Bowen's posterboard "was one of his study mechanisms and he was using it for the last few minutes to cram."
But when he realized that Bowen intended to use it during the exam, he initially cried foul. Bowen then explained that Beatty never specified "inches" on his syllabus, in class or in his reminder emails.
After Beatty confirmed that his student was correct, he allowed Bowen to use the card — but only in the back of the classroom, where other students couldn't peek.
"It was fabulous. I was shocked," Bowen said of being allowed to use the card. "I gave it about a 5 percent chance he'd let me use it."
He added that he "did well" on the exam, scoring 140 out of 150.
And Beatty took the incident in stride. In the end, he was impressed with Bowen.
"I was actually very happy for him," he said. "You have to have a student with the intelligence to recognize the loophole and then have the audacity to put it together and come in and try it."
Beatty shared the moment on Facebook, where it went viral, with more than 28,000 people sharing the story. He did, however, then immediately correct his syllabuses and test instructions.