‘Maybe try a different course’: Ranking Cambridge University lecturers’ brutal comments

No wonder Cambridge students always look stressed

Anyone at Cambridge knows what it is like to face the terrible wrath of a supervisors’ feedback. It doesn’t matter if you topped tripos or cured cancer, you will probably still see the word “And??” scribbled in the margin of your essay at some point.

We asked Cambridge University students to share the worst comments they have ever received on a piece of coursework or exam and some of them are so mean that, if we weren’t talking about Cambridge here, I wouldn’t believe they were true.

Here are the 20 worst pieces of feedback that students sent in, ranked by how hilariously brutal they are. All I can say is that, when Taylor Swift wrote “so casually cruel in the name of being honest,” she must have been referring to this list!

1. ‘Though intoxicated by the eloquence of your verbosity, I demand an explicit response’

Only at Cambridge do you need dictionary just to understand an insult.

2. ‘Started off at a third and made retrograde steps from there’

I’d have settled for a pass.

3. ‘I think you need a new supervisor’

Let me guess, he said “You’re a lovely girl but I just need to focus on my own PhD right now. You deserve a supervisor who appreciates you for all your quirks and incomprehensible waffle.”

4. ‘Please do not reference from conspiracy theorists’

Are you trying to say Instagram reels isn’t a verifiable source?

5. ‘Recommending the book “How to write a sentence and how to read one”‘

Ouch. But on a serious note, where can I buy?

6. ‘This essay would’ve benefitted from not being submitted early’

Sure, but my mental health benefitted from being at the pub instead.

7. ‘Maybe try a different course next year’

Was I considering it already? Yes. Does that mean I want to hear it? No.

8. ‘You’re never going to get a first, we both know that’

If we both know, what’s the use of saying it out loud??

9. *Rips up essay*

We all know how it feels to have our work ripped apart in a supervision, but I didn’t realise they were allowed to literally rip it up?

10. ‘What on earth would make you think that this is what the examiner is looking for?’

Bold of you to assume I think that far ahead.

11. ‘Your introduction sounds like you’re clearing you’re throat’

And there’s a lump in my throat now, thank you.

12. ‘I see what you’re doing here, I just don’t like it’

Glad to know you see what I’m doing, because I definitely don’t!

13. ‘I almost committed suicide marking your tests’

I feel the same way about reading your feedback.

14. ‘NO!!!’


15. ‘This is terrible… I’m sure other people have said the same’

But my mum said I was really smart…

16. ‘You re-attempted one set of supervision work, unfortunately just getting it all wrong in a new way’

I may not know the right answer, but at least you can count on me to think of new creative ways to get it wrong.

17. ‘Can you just shut up for a second?’

I guess I will now.

18. ‘Your exploration is as pedantic as [professor’s name]’

Well, at least they’re employed.

19. ‘You’ve really fallen beyond the pale this week’

It began a lot earlier than this week.

20. ‘This is surely completely wrong’

I can’t argue with this.