Holy cow, I wrote a book!
I draw your attention to this research paper from
Professor Mike Adams from
Eastern Connecticut State University
The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome,
also published in
The Annals of Improbable Research.
In the paper, Adams investigates the phenomenon he summarizes as follows:
A student's grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly
just before the student takes an exam
than at any other time of the year.
He takes twenty years of historical data and confirms the existence
of the phenomenon, thereby drawing attention to an important but overlooked
national health problem:
Increased mortality of women with grandchildren in college during the
weeks leading up to exams.
Adams develops theories which attempt to explain these phenomena
and also has some proposals for addressing the effect.
A follow-up study by professor Lee Jussim
of Rutgers University examined ways of addressing this enormous
danger posed to grandmothers.
A Preliminary Report on an Intervention Designed
to Reduce Grandmother Death Resulting From
Jussim found a way to save the lives of 4 out of 5 grandmothers
during the lead-up to exams:
Inform students that the make-up exam will be brutally difficult.
The articles are written tongue-in-cheek,
but other less whimsical explanations for the observed behavior include
Note also that the predicted grandmother popular collapse
did not come to pass.
One theory is that this was prevented due to another
phenomenon: Grade inflation.