I had a professor, who was feared. People were so scared of him that they would sit at the cafe across from the department and drink after their exams. I was told that he was a miserable examiner, grinding people to pulp.
I was advised to write a paper in place of an exam. I did it every chance I could.
In his class we had read loads of Freud. I had never read Freud before. We read Jacques Lacan Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. It took me six months just to realize that he wasn't talking about psychoanalysis, but metaphysics!
I worked like mad on the paper for that class. I turned it in and awaited in trepidation for my exam. Writing the paper only meant that he would start questioning with the paper. He could ask anything he wanted.
I walked into the examining room and sat down. He eyed my paper. He skipped the two "useless" pages of introduction. He fingered through the paper. Then he cocked a crooked eye at me and asked in an almost evil way, "SO, just what were you trying to say in this paper?!"
I gulped and started to stammer out my answer. "Professor, I've never read Freud before or psychoanalysis. My goal was to repeat as closely as I could what you said."
"OK", he replied. He asked another question. I answered again apologizing first for my poor grasp of Freud and Lacan.
The third time I started to answer and again apologized, he stopped me and looked up kindly and said, "You have nothing to apologize for." He asked a few more questions and I answered them. Then he let me go.
I had been told that if the professor asked more than one or two questions you had done really well. I can't remember, but I think I got a 15 or16 out of 20. I must have done well.
I stumbled across the street in a fog. My "mates" (classmates) greeted me with glee. "Did he shred you?"
No, he hadn't. I recounted my tale. They couldn't believe it. They were selling a mouse pad, which had his face and the name of the department on it. I laughed and paid twenty Euro for it. (In effect, I bought their round of drinks.)
I found out that that professor, as with all the other professors, just wanted an honest student that didn't shift blame, but worked hard. He didn't like people "blowing smoke".
Most students apparently didn't study very hard. He did not suffer fools gladly.