You see your friend looking down at their feet walking towards your usual secondary school lunch time spot. With a disappointed face they tell you that they’ve failed their maths exam. What better way to console a friend than by telling them that Albert Einstein, one of the most re­markable physicians to walk this earth, also flunked maths? But is it true that the person behind E=mc2 struggled with calculus?

Photo: Orren Jack TurnerPhoto: Orren Jack Turner

Just like all of us here, Einstein had his fair share of struggles; he had confided in his biographer that his parents worried be­cause he took longer to start talking than other babies and he’s commonly said to have had dyslexia and Asperger’s Syndrome.

But maths? Nope. This one’s fake. He got high marks at school, in some subjects more than others. This myth probably stems from a failed entrance exam to join the Zurich Polytechnic Institute when he was just 16 and still in high school. The exam was in French, a subject he hadn’t studied very well yet.

He still did outstandingly well in the maths and physics sections of the exam but failed the language and biology sections. Very telling of his future career.

Despite not having failed maths, Einstein can still teach us a thing or two about academia. Failing the entrance exam didn’t dishearten him. Instead, he continued his studies, applied again and passed the entry exam for the same institute. Moral of the story; You can still use Einstein’s story to console your friend, but don’t focus on the failure, focus on the success!

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