Essay Page 27
None of the supervisions or lectures has any direct relation to the Tripos Exam. If you are studying English, for example, there was in the 1970s a mandatory Tragedy section for the Tripos Part I. That was divided into three sections, Classical, Medieval, and Modern. A sample question from the first of those back then was this: "All Greek tragedy is religious: discuss." There was a question on the history of English that referred to about a half-dozen English translations over the past 1000 years of the same short Biblical passage. The question asked was: "Show how the following translations have been influenced by West Saxon."

The point about the lectures, supervisions, and exams is that they are not really connected in the way they are in America. There are no "dictators" in the Oxbridge system: you go (or not, as the case may be) to lectures; you attend supervisions (or not); then at the end of the year

you take an exam that is graded by people who may well know you but at least one who does not because one of your examiners will be from outside Cambridge. This will be someone who knows nothing about you or what you have done during the year. The outside examiner not only grades the exams, he is asked to set some of the questions. This is done to ensure personal relationships do not "get in the way." (The one person who got a starred First in History when I was there was a well-known Marxist. The History Faculty was extremely conservative. They still gave him the highest marks ever in History because his essays were brilliant, even if they did not agree with his conclusions or even like him.)

As a student, you are very much on your own. Your College probably has a late night bar (mine did!), and you can go there every day to drink yourself silly, if you like. If you fail an exam, you are out; there are no second