Exams

For those of us still trapped in the labyrinthine catacombs of Academia, good luck on your exams! Just take a deep breath, plunge in, and take comfort knowing that it'll be over soon.

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TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

And remember this: nobody works as hard as you think they do.

Amiable Hummingbird's picture

Devotee

I actually have a test in and hour and a half- it's the lab exam for my Entomology class.
Wish me luck everybody! I seriously need it!!

I don't think I've ranted on here about how much I hate this class, but I do. With a passion. It makes me feel like this: Banghead

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

break a leg! kick some ass!

Kaisar Ryu's picture

Petitioner

Hopefully the leg that was broke here was someone elses. While legaly more questionable, it will end up much less inconvinient for you, especialy in fleeing from the assaulted individual.

But seriously, good luck to all of you taking exams,

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... that you need to kick ass first if you're breaking your own leg. So break someone else's: you've got less pain and fewer scheduling restrictions that way.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

And to think, I'm trying to get back into this area....

The Paperclip's picture

I'm getting ready for my first college finals.

It's overwhelming, but I think only one of my four is a cumulative exam over the entire semester, two are just what we've covered since we took mid terms, and one is talking for 5 minutes about the 7 page paper we're writing now. Still a bit overwhelming.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

good luck! I remember my first semester of College...had a 60%-of-final-grade final.

Then came law school: 100% finals all 'round.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

The research papers on the other hand...

Mith's picture

Supplicant

So I was actually looking forward to this time of year, not being in college, becuase I could mock all those poor fools who are studying and taking tests- and then I realized I need to take the SAT subject tests in courses I haven't studied in a few years.

Oh well.

My consolation is next semester- everyone else will be taking tests and I will be living it up in Europe! Legalling drinking and all that too.

I just have to keep that in mind Wink

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

That I will be stuck here in the US, not just studying for tests, but doing it bone dry as well. I can legally drink here. Who needs Europe? Blum 3

Mith's picture

Supplicant

I didn't mean you persay, I mostly think of it in comparison to my friends who are 18 or 19 ans freshman in college, not used to finals so major, and stuck drinking PBR and Sailor J's. Maybe even McCormicks at best.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Just for those of you grading the exams, remember, it's almost over now, and while homicide might be good for the gene pool, it's still illegal. For those of you who are still undergrads, this isn't necessarily aimed at you; it's usually only a small number of students who produce things that force you to look and see if their shoes are tied or if they had to resort to the velcro option. I probably wouldn't have even remembered my teaching trauma (having long since buried that pain along with the offending practical exams) save for my roommate periodically sticking his head in the room to read off select examples from his grading.

Marri's picture

Supplicant

I get to start teaching CS next trimester. I'll get the people who are just completely inept, AND the people who aren't completely inept but think they're way better than they are and mess everything up. So excited! Biggrin

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... to my own TA days. And the way all that shit was worth it for the few people who were either truly brilliant or honest, hardworking, and reasonably competent. I liked the latter the most (there were four, three of them female, interestingly), since they were the most teachable.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

I generally preferred the ones that were just flat out brilliant. They picked it up quickly and asked more interesting questions (not to mention generally being able to provide a reason behind their answer to the single photon through a slit extra credit question I gave them). They were also the ones who could be counted on to help people around them when I was being swamped by the other side of the class trying to figure out whether the volt meter went in in parallel or series. Sadly the lack of hardworking in at least one of them cost him a little. He was an engineering student, and one of maybe three students out of 120 that I could teach using calculus, but despite knowing the material being sloppy cost him just a few points more than I could beg out of the head professor come curve time. Ended up being the difference between a 3.5 and a 3.0.

Kaisar Ryu's picture

Petitioner

but if I remember properly, You measure voltage in parallel and current in series. If its the other way around, please correct me. I havent had a legitimate use for a multimeter beyound checking a cable using the ohm-meter in, what, 4 years now. maybe 5. wow, I'm feeling oldish now.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

Voltmeters have an effectively infinite resistance (few mega-ohms), so they're stuck in parallel. Ammeters have basically no resistance, so they get stuck in series. This would be an important thing to note when testing a system hooked up to a live 440 line. Was trouble shooting a lab furnace at one point and went to hit terminals 1 and 2 (a series connection), and missed and hit 1 and 3, which was a parallel. Yeah, thankfully I always work with one hand in my pocket, and had gloves and rubber soled shoes. I doubt that full measure was needed, but I was working at night after everyone else had left, and the resulting short circuit vaporized the tips of the meter, blew the fuse in the meter, and left me with a purple after image of the discharge for a few minutes.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

So I'm guessing a twinge in January when you hard-reset your expectations, followed by a deep-seated need to talk to someone who has felt your pain around mid-March...

A few pointers:
1) Pound your expectations in to them at the start, then beat the hell out of them when you hand the first assignment back. It may make them feel like shit when you hand back the first assignment covered in red, but as long as that red tells them exactly what they did wrong they may actually fix it in the next assignment.

2) Document everything; I know one TA who caught a student for plagiarizing (verbatim from her brother's report in a previous year), reported her, and when she talked to the professor she'd doctored the page of the report she got back to erase the evidence. The TA had made a photocopy before handing it back. I've also personally called up a hospital to verify an excuse note when it wasn't on hospital letterhead.

3) Be available. You honestly won't have that many students who really give a shit, but for those who actually do, set up more than just office hours. Another TA and I co-taught an informal review session before their tests, and I was constantly getting the support staff to give me equipment to do one on one tutoring with the lab equipment. Hell, I even had one student who dropped the course (something about me putting her grade out of its misery on the first three labs) then asked to come to class for the rest of the semester and came for office hours the whole semester so she'd pass the next time through.

4) You're going to make mistakes; just admit that now. Not only will you realize you don't understand the material quite as well as you thought you did (product of only attacking the idea from one or two directions rather than the dozen your students will have), but you're in a hurry and under stress. If you screw up in front of the class, admit it, and if someone has the metaphorical stones to call you out on your mistake think about tossing them a little chunk of extra credit for being on the ball. It may only be a half a point or a point against the 20 for the lab session, but they were paying enough attention to catch something you didn't.

5) Make sure they know how they're doing. Put their score on the assignment as well as their total score so far for all assignments, then tell them the average score for the assignment and overall. It gives them a good meter for how they're doing, if they need to improve, and whether they are improving. I would also list the high scores for both lab and overall (without naming names) since it seemed to get the best students in to a bit of competition to be the one holding the title.

Marri's picture

Supplicant

Some of it doesn't apply (I'm not sure I'll actually know high scores and averages unless the other TAs tell me, I don't think they're actually required to attend anything I do so excuse notes aren't a problem, etc) but it's all good advice, and much appreciated <3

Hopefully my expectations aren't too insanely unrealistic, cause I've had a bunch of friends in the program already and their rants have shaped my perception of "likely student abilities." That bit about people who think They're So Smart And Aren't is straight out of my friend Molly's rant about her grad student sectionees.

Being available is definitely high on my list, though. My section leader when I took this course gave us his Gchat address, and would happily help us debug at odd hours over IM. Once he even gave up and told me to just come over to his dorm, and spent until 5:30 helping me debug my priority queue. Basically my goal for this program is to be as awesome as Tony.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

Marri wrote:
Basically my goal for this program is to be as awesome as Tony.

Was he GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT?

Marri's picture

Supplicant

My Computer Science exams are relatively low pain (that is, a two-three hour exam each and I'm done) but Chinese is evil. You write a 200 character composition, which is part 1. Then memorize and recite it to the class: part 2. Then an oral interview that requires you to have read, understood, memorized stupid details from and be able to answer questions about, 8 one to two page long passages. Then the written test.

...whyyyyy Chinese, whyyyy! YOU ARE OPTIONAL. I DO NOT NEED TO TAKE YOU.

Amiable Hummingbird's picture

Devotee

That right there is the reason I am soooo glad I didn't have to take a language! My school waives that requirement if you study abroad. I feel like I beat the system somehow, considering I went to Ireland, where they speak, oh wait, English! \o/

Lots of luck to you, and just keep thinking happy thoughts!

Marri's picture

Supplicant

You're required to take a year of non-English unless you test out. This can be on a SATII, an AP or by taking a test once you arrive at school. I tested out with my Latin SATII, but I wanted to learn Chinese / visit Beijing, so I decided to take Chinese anyway. It's far more useful than Latin, when it comes down to it.

And not only that, I'm now even past what's required for the Beijing program. They require 2 quarters, I'm finishing my 4th. So clearly I'm just crazy.

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