Thursday, December 9, 2010

PH253: 8am exams suck and we can't do a thing about it

So our exam is 8am this Friday. That really sucks, and there is nothing we can do about it. Here are some thoughts about surviving the exam:
  1. Sleep the night before. All-night cramming may help you learn a few new things, but on a problem-based exam it is critical that you are able to think clearly and quickly. Zoning out because you're tired works against that very strongly.
  2. Use a buddy system if you're not a morning person. Seriously. Two different times I have actually called students on their cell phone to get them out of bed after the exam started. Call each other in the morning so you don't oversleep.
  3. Don't bother memorizing stuff. I want to see if you can think & solve problems, so you'll have all the formulas you need.
  4. Do ask questions during the exam. If it isn't 100% clear to you, ask for clarification. I may or may not be able to answer your question, but it can't hurt.
  5. Do be explicit about showing your work, and turn in anything you wrote on. Partial credit is key. If you are stuck on how to finish a problem, at least describe in words what you would like to do, that's worth something.
  6. Try not to get stuck on any one problem, since you will be somewhat pressed for time. (You will have more than enough time to finish if you work carefully and quickly, but if you get stuck for 15min on one problem, that may not be the case).
  7. Use your formula sheets for example problems, notes to yourself, or a guide to what various formulas are for (and what they are not for). You'll have a sufficient formula sheet, but that only helps if you recognize the formulas ...
  8. Remember that Wolfram Integrator will not be there to save the day on the exam, so remind yourself how to integrate the hard way ;-) Anything beyond basic polynomials will be on the formula sheet.
As I have more random work-avoiding thoughts, I will post them here ...

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