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Testing Final exam and damage control

  1. May 6, 2012 #1
    I'm working on a unlimited time final exam. There is a problem that I have been thinking about for the last three days but I still couldnt get it. It is worth about 15% of the final and the final is 35% of my grade. I could work on the final for another 5 days before I turn it in. Now the question is whether I should give up on it and turn in the final right now.

    I have to say that this has never happened to me before. I was always able to figure out every single problem on a unlimited time final, maybe after a lot of effort though. But this time I suddenly feel that I have had enough and would like to end this right now. But I do have a perfect major gpa to date and I would like to keep it that way. I remember that twofish said people with perfect gpa tend not to be good with damage control and maybe he is right. Somehow I feel it is extremely wrong for me to give up at this point but on the other hand I am exhausted and actually sick.

    This is probably not realistic but I am hoping someone could tell me what to do. I have never been faced with this before..
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2012 #2


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    Perhaps put the problem/final aside for a day or two, and get back to it later. Meanwhile, if one is ill, try to recover over the next day or two. Chicken soup might help.

    Also, try not to worry (get stressed) about grades.
  4. May 6, 2012 #3
    I also have another final to study for. I have been trying to set this final aside and study for the other one, but it does not work well when I'm freaking out in the back of my head about the problem that I cannot solve.

    I have the suspicion that it's the exam question that made me sick. I have been waking up with a headache three days in a row...:frown:
  5. May 6, 2012 #4
    ... I never thought I'd hear anyone complaining about a final that is worth only 35% of the grade... let alone one you could take your sweet time to finish properly at home.

    IMO, if you're worried about losing 5.25% off of your final grade in one course you may have been having it too easy.

    All I can say is put it aside for a day or two and go back and give it another go, after all you have no time limit, so what is the problem?
  6. May 6, 2012 #5
    No. I have just been working very hard. One professor once told me that he was surprised that I was able to get every single question of the exam. He wrote it in a way that he expected no one to get more than 85%. I worked like crazy on that exam and got 95%.
  7. May 6, 2012 #6
    In five days, even If you don't get a complete correct solution you could come with a plausible argument that may be close to the actual solution and get you a big chunk of the points. Since this is a many days, take home exam your prof may have put an impossible question just to see what you can come up with.
  8. May 6, 2012 #7


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    Where do you see R.P.F. complaining about the assignment?

    Some of the most difficult problems I've ever been given are the ones on which we were allowed to "take our sweet time." I've never had an "unlimited time" problem, but take-home components are common in my major(s) and allow for more difficult problems than what would be reasonable to expect in a 60-90 minute session. More time does not imply easier.

    All of that is a bit off-topic though, because R.P.F. has said nothing about wishing the assignment were different, rather he/she is concerned with doing well on it. I think your advice is good (take a break and come back to it), but we cannot infer that R.P.F. is complaining about the requirements for the final based on the posts thus far.

    Edit: bp_psy beat me to it. R.P.F., it is quite possible that the problem you've been given is not solvable using only concepts you learned over the semester; you might have to use intuition and a little bit of research to make a logical argument/extrapolation for the bit you can't figure out.
  9. May 6, 2012 #8
    I was afraid my comment would be interpreted as such. He's not complaining per se, I admit. I just found the concern on getting a non-perfect score for once in his degree (while still probably attaining a very high one) to be absolutely ridiculous. If you don't get the perfect score, it's going to be a trivially small fluctuation in a number that is already very good by any standard. Plus you still HAVE unlimited time to think it through and come up with an answer, think of what a privileged position you are in.

    As someone coming from a school with 4-5 hour in-class final exams with NO resources, formularies or any other assistance, that account for 100% of the grade... I felt compelled to reply in a "big deal" fashion.

    But do not misunderstand me, don't settle for any less than what you want (unless it's really claiming a toll on your health) and keep at it. With enough time and a proper mindset, I'm sure you'll be able to come up with something. Luckily right now you know the first one isn't an impediment.
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  10. May 6, 2012 #9
    Thank you so much, guys. I appreciate every one of your replies. I think I will study for the other final for the next two or three days and then go back to the question I'm having trouble with and see what I can come up with.

    I have to say that determining your grade using one exam is not fair at all...I've had quite a few stressful in-class finals. But they only make up 30-40% of my grade.
  11. May 6, 2012 #10
    I agree, but this thread is yours and not mine. I think your grading system is very fair and your grade on a take-home like that would definitely reflect the work you put into it.

    I had a prof that used to say a physicist (assuming this is your major) is someone who you could ask to solve any technical problem and even if stumped, should be able to come back in a few days with one or more possible solutions. Sounds like your professor agrees with this idea.
  12. May 6, 2012 #11
    Be very careful about extrapolating your own experience to someone else's situation. Take-home exams are generally used to give students incredibly hard questions. They give you several days because you will need several days to even come close to finishing. Likewise, if your prof says that you will have an open-book exam, be very afraid.

    Telling someone "big deal" is somewhat naive, in my opinion.
  13. May 6, 2012 #12


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    Sometimes accreditation boards set the standards for testing and evaluation procedures, so departments have to either meet them or forfeit accreditation for that particular program. This means you might have some programs that are significantly more rigorous with testing environments than others.

    For example:

    Most of the engineering courses I've taken have lecture, lab, and exam components. Your final grade is a weighted combination of each. However, a grade lower than a C in any one of the components means you have to retake the course. Some courses will only consider the final exam score, though. All exams are taken in a heavily monitored environment (cameras, proctors walking up and down isles the whole time, etc). You aren't allowed to wear "bulky" clothing or have drinking bottles with paper on them. Backpacks and electronic devices are checked-in before entering the room, and all sections for a given course take the exam at the same time in the same room (hundreds of students in lower-division courses). All of this is an effort to prevent cheating, which is I assume is a requirement for ABET accreditation, but I'm not entirely sure about that.

    Thankfully, it is not the same in the math department.
  14. May 18, 2012 #13
    I'm the OP. Finished the course with a grand 97% average. :approve: I do feel lucky that in most of my cases effort does pay off.
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