A Week in Problem Sets

You know you're supposed to do all the work in the boxes. One time won't hurt, right? (Image from Pixabay)

Tuesday Afternoon

You receive a problem set. You judge its length quickly, feeling disappointment. That disappointment lingers throughout the afternoon as you steadfastly ignore your commitments. It is accompanied by a sort of lingering dread that takes you into the night, even as you try to relax. After all, you have no classes tomorrow. Surely you deserve some downtime.


A new day has dawned, full of productivity and optimism. You have never felt better, and you promise yourself that today—today you will conquer all beasts, not the least being your problem set. You head to your math study session, filled with anticipation.

You spot your tablemate, Tablemate A, but you don’t really like him, and you don’t know anyone else, so you work quietly in the corner and get stuck on the first problem. You eye your calendar. You have 6 days until this problem set is due. You’ll have plenty of time to work on it later. You put it away.


There is no time for problem sets on Thursdays—there are enough things due on Friday anyway! The problem set sits in your math binder, dusty, alone and forgotten.


When you take out your math binder for class, you belatedly glance at your problem set that has half the first problem done. Tablemate A asks if anyone got 7b on the set. You and your other tablemates stare blankly back at him. Tablemate A explains that he’s halfway through his problem set, but that 7b just really confused him.

You make a sarcastic comment about Tablemate A getting to bed before midnight every night. Tablemate A misses the joke, and cheerfully confirms that he does.

You hate Tablemate A with a fiery passion.


You decide to be productive on Saturday. You get out your problem set and stare blankly at it. You turn to 7b just to prove that you can, but it only confuses you, so you do 8a and 8b. Then you get stuck on 8c so you put your problem set away for another day.


In your math study group on Messenger, Tablemate A has called for a review session Sunday night. You go, promising yourself that you’ll get enough done to not make Monday hell. You get there, and Tablemate A greets you with a smile. He cheerfully informs you that he finally got 7b and can help you if you need it. Apparently, he’s finished his whole problem set and is now checking it with other people.

You leave.


Regretting all your life choices, you frantically text your friend about 7b. She doesn’t know how to do it either, but you FaceTime to try and figure it out. You go to sleep at 3 AM, every problem done except the elusive 7b.

Tuesday Morning

You check your problem set with your friend while eating breakfast. You’ve gotten half the problems wrong, and math is second mod. Neither of you knows how to do 7b. You frantically correct your answers and then google 7b throughout first mod when the teacher’s back is turned. 7b remains unanswered.

You rush to math and throw yourself at Tablemate A, who helps you but refuses to let you copy his work, and you hate him so much. You are the last to turn in your problem set. You are pretty sure 7b is wrong, but at least now it’s over.

A feeling of accomplishment fills you. You have conquered the mountain. You have control and happiness in your life. You are ready for whatever the world might throw at you next. Bring it on, world, you taunt. Bring it on.

Tuesday Afternoon

You receive a problem set.

About the Author

Mara Adams
Hailing from Peoria, Illinois, Mara Adams is a senior at IMSA, currently residing in 03A. This year, she's the Managing Editor of the Acronym, but more importantly, she has recently discovered her love for Twix.

Be the first to comment on "A Week in Problem Sets"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.