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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Satire | Beyond the Grimoire: Unveiling the hidden dangers of desperate exam magic

Satire+%7C+Beyond+the+Grimoire%3A+Unveiling+the+hidden+dangers+of+desperate+exam+magic
Fikayomi Olagbami | Senior Staff Illustrator

In the mystical world of academia, there comes a time in every student’s studying regime when they ask themselves — what wouldn’t I do to get a good grade on this exam? What lengths would I go to score well on this paper or project?

Some choose the path of all-night study sessions. They’ll give up their sleep for the sake of the perfect grade. For others, sneakily flirting with the mystical and walking the line between acceptable aid and cheating is the desired method. They spend precious hours painstakingly writing small definitions on enchanted notecards or inscribing complicated equations into the back of calculators to grant subtle advantages on test day. Those whose finals consist of papers or projects may call out to the ethereal ChatGPT gods, begging for prompt ideas or sometimes even full paragraphs.

But for a daring few, the price they are willing to pay is more. Trading sleep or risking exposure pales in comparison to the allure of casting spells and playing magical tricks. They will risk and give up more to ensure the benefits they lust for. They are willing to cast spells and burn bridges, speak to the dead and sacrifice what little gold they have to reach their desired outcomes.

Now you might be wondering, are finals worth such a cost? Are paltry exams or final portfolios worth the demonic hexes and potential curses to follow? I implore all who read this today to not waste their magical talents for frivolous means. Your GPA is a tapestry, salvageable by any powerful witch who knows how to navigate its intricacies. To those unwilling to traverse into the dark arts, a favor to Athena rewards plentiful. But those skeptical of the gods may place amethyst and moonstone on one’s desk to inspire wisdom and intellect as well.

For those truly tempted enough to turn to sorcery and enchantment, heed the warnings of your spell. Magic comes with a price, and it is one you must be willing to pay. You must ask yourself — are you willing to barter your soul? Sell your happiness? Relinquish your free time to prayer and your friendships for knowledge? These are the sacrifices you must pay if what you desire is truly worth the cosmic toll.

To some apprentices of knowledge, final exams pose no anguish or torment. A far more ominous, much more frightening test’s shadow looms dangerously in the distance. After the frigid grasp of winter’s chill comes the rejuvenating spring where blossoms return and the clouds in many minds wisp away. The ephemeral glow of the sun bathes the academic campus and infuses into the fabric of our very own magic. But darkness persists for many. It encroaches upon our hearts and our souls, eating away at our consciousness until it consumes the very essence of our mind’s thought. No sun for us. No laughter for us. Instead, there exists only the soul-clenching ordeal of standardized tests that, like malevolent specters, relentlessly shatter the fortitude of a scholar.

We hear the whispers of our forefathers and of those both in and outside the academic coven that we should refuse to let these shadows consume us. That our future applications are considered holistically. But any student studying for one of these standardized exams knows that these sentiments are fruitless. Our scores carry heavy weight, and sacrifices are inevitable. We’ve all worked so hard and for so long to muddle everything now. We’re willing to sacrifice everything, cast any spell necessary.

I too am on the same path as many of you, and I share this fable of academic desperation as a reminder to both myself and any other witch willing to make such sacrifices. We are not the first sorcerers succumbing to the darkness in need of other strategies, nor shall we be the last. We will all do what is necessary and give up whatever we must.

An ancient legend tells the story of three diligent scholars — one studying for the MCAT, one studying for the LSAT and one studying for the GRE. The three cast a great spell many fortnights ago, hoping to secure highly elusive, coveted scores. 

The pre-med sorceress harbored dreams of going to med school at John Hopkins and didn’t want to watch her years of academic success lay in ruin to an abominable MCAT score. The pre-law enchantress desired to traverse the realms of the big law field and become a corporate lawyer, understanding that the path to such heights requires an education from a top law school. The seeker of the perfect GRE score needed scholarship money to fund their educational aspirations, but getting such gold is near impossible without an impeccable score.

Motivated by their distinct ambitions, these three young witches committed wholly to their mystical pursuit, allowing detriment to tail their wake. They forsook their friends, cloistered in their rooms and kept away from the sun to complete their prayers. They waited in solitude, shut out from the rest of the world, for the night they were to complete their incantation — the night before all their examinations. With ancient grimoire in hand, they shared a kindred like no other. They had prepared for months, doing nothing else but committing themselves fully to the interweaving of study and prayer.

They set their candles, incense and herbs upon an altar. They lit them one by one — orange for career, yellow for intellect, blue for tranquility — and watched the wax run down to singe the cinnamon, tea and eucalyptus. Lighting the incense, the three began to pray and chant. They begged the gods to grant them knowledge and success, intoning every spell within their mystical arsenal. The pre-law student, fluent in the ancient tongue of Latin, concluded their enchantment with one final prayer — “Cupimus scientiam, nihil aliud refert,” meaning “We desire intellect, nothing else matters.”

Their desires manifested and each got the score they had wanted, yet a toll had been taken from each witch — pieces of their essences surrendered to the gods in exchange for their coveted outcomes. They had been sequestered for too long and had missed out on quality time with other members of the coven. They stopped praying and casting spells for other virtues nor crafted midnight charms to protect themselves from their demons. Their academic marks suffered, their kinships suffered and most importantly their minds dimmed to shadows. They were not the same witches they once were before casting the great spell. Instead, they were miserable, hollow shells who had missed out on so much of the world around them. They were empty and tired, too weary to continue on their journeys. They had sacrificed too much and used all of their power, draining their essence and losing time that will never be returned.

Let this parable serve as a lesson to all the witches out there looking for solutions, willing to try anything and every mystical avenue to get the grades and scores they desire. You must remain kind to yourself. You must remain dutiful and pray to the other virtues of your life. Beware of the abyss into which the three students descended, lest you lose yourself too in the depths of these exams.

You are much more than a test score will ever be. Work hard, stay diligent, but remember to take care of yourself and your mystical well-being. If you find yourself beckoned to the mystical arts to find solace and solutions, I propose a much lighter and gentler kind of spell — “Da mihi scientiam. Da mihi pacem. Da mihi laetitiam.”

Give me understanding. Give me peace. Give me joy.

Livia LaMarca is the assistant editor of the opinions desk who misses using the Oxford comma. She mostly writes about American political discourse, US pop culture and social movements. Write to her at [email protected] to share your own opinions!

About the Contributor
Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor
Livia LaMarca is a junior political science and sociology student from outside of Chicago. You can often find her studying for the LSAT and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Her hobbies include singing, crocheting & knitting, Marvel movies, and hanging with her dog Leo (who she misses very much). She enjoys writing about American political discourse and U.S. pop culture with a particular passion for social justice and equitable social programs. Livia's email —  — is always open if you'd like to share your own opinions or respond to an opinion column of hers.