How to Pick the Perfect Lab Partner by GrueHunter

So you're in a lab and you need a partner. Many of us have been in this situation and don't know where to begin. Sometimes the teacher assigns partners, which is just a random lottery; so in that case, just stop reading, 'cause I can't help you. If you're able to choose a partner (with or without the other person's consent) then here's a simple guide to what you should know.

First, you need to know what kind of person you are. There are five types of students: honor rollers, geeks, populars, misfits, and slackers. Knowing what group you fall into lets you better select a good match. Let's break down the groups and explain what they mean.

Honor Roller

This group is defined by the over achievers that always get the best grades and are usually the teacher's pet. If you like homework and your parents have a "My child is an A student" bumper sticker, you're prolly an honor roller. Extra curricular activities are a plus for an honor roller. While there can be crossover from this group into others, if you fall into this group, disregard the others and skip down to match making.


Do you like knowing how computers work? Would you date a robot? Is math exciting (sexually)? Do you wear a functional belt because you like it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a geek. Not all geeks wear glasses, but it helps. Being a part of the marching band also helps. Geeks love to learn but they aren't all A students. Many geeks excel at math and science and do poorly at gym and other physically demanding classes. Geeks have no desire to sweet, so after school sports are out. Being a geek doesn't make it impossible to belong to another group, just very unlikely. Geeks are never popular (unless you're at computer camp).


Are you a jock or a cheerleader? Do people you don't know say hi to you? These kids are the ones that you envy (and if you don't envy anyone then you're either one of them or very secure for a teenager, good job). This group doesn't have to work hard because they get all the good breaks. As jocks, they don't have to turn in assignments on time and as cheerleaders they can get out of classes for spirit week planning. They're allowed to break the rules because they're important to the school's image. Being popular does not exclude you from any group except the geeks.


A misfit will intentionally stage a prank in class or be disobedient to gain attention and the thumbs up from his/her friend(s). Not caring about turning in work or even showing up for class is the main rule for this group. They want to be rebels, and they want to be unique, so they've all banded together to be rebellious and unique together. Goths sometimes fall into this group, as do the kids that are always getting detention or suspended. This group is all-inclusive and overrides all others (you can't be a misfit and an honor roller because they're total opposites). Misfits never participate in extracurricular actives.


Not caring about work is also the mantra for slackers although the true slacker is filled with apathy instead of disobedience. Why care about class when you can just sit there and not think? Being a slacker excludes you from other groups because you have to care about anything to not be a slacker. If you're a slacker you aren't happy about it, but on the other hand, you don't care.

Matching Up

So now you know what you are and you know how to identify the others around you, but you don't know how to choose. Most would think that choosing an honor roller would always be the right choice, but you're wrong. You need to pick a match that will work for you and your partner. If your partner is pissed about being your partner, they may get the teacher to grade you separately and that may not be in your best interest. So here's how the matches break down:

Your Group Ideal Match Worst Match
Honor Roll Honor Roll Misfit
Geek Honor Roll Popular
Popular Popular Geek
Misfit Slacker Honor Roll
Slacker Slacker Honor Roll

So why do these matches make sense? It's quite simple really. You want to match with someone who you can do your ideal amount of work with and who won't hold you back. If you don't want to work, you can't pair up with a workaholic because they may get graded separately, leaving you with an F. If you're looking to do a lot of work, but your partner is lazy, you may get stuck with a half finished project that isn't worth the A that you want.

In Closing

These simple rules got me through school and I'm an above average student grade-wise. When you pick your lab partner, you want them to see that you're useful, but don't commit to more than you're willing to do. Also, picking the hottest girl won't get you in her pants, but it may get you a crappy grade if your effort is in getting her legs apart and not doing the work.

About the Author

GrueHunter is a 20-something college graduate with a BA and an AA. He never got a high school diploma or a GED and happily works as a web designer and programmer in the United States.

September 2006.