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Testing Messing up on exams

  1. Feb 28, 2007 #1
    I just messed up my exam because I used the wrong value in wrong problem since teacher didnt had it on the test and just annouced it in the class instead of writing it on the board. This cost me 20 points and a letter grade.

    In the past, in some classes I have really screwed up the first test but then pulled my grades and ended up with B+.

    Do you make these stupid mistakes that end up costing you dearly? I wonder how some people can maintain their 3.8 GPA.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2007 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    20 points and a letter grade for a wrong value of a numerical constant sounds waaaay excessive to me. Is that sort of thing common practice at your school? If I graded like that, my students and their parents would complain very loudly to my college's administration, and the provost would surely call me in for a "friendly chat." :eek:
  4. Feb 28, 2007 #3
    That sounds a bit odd that he deducted so many points for a small error. Was this like a one, huge problem test or something? I am confused as to what value was incorrectly given?

    I am trying to think what sort of problem you could have doing. I am just curious now, haha.
  5. Feb 28, 2007 #4
    One of my pet peeves is when professors use harsh grading techniques to overcompensate for easy exams. Last semester, I had a class where I lost 12 points for a single numerical mistake on what was otherwise an incredibly easy test. Even with the harsh grading, the average was something like a 93%. It was clear that the professor was trying to use harsh grading to make the assignment of letter grades easier, and so the grading was essentially arbitrary.

    I'd much rather have a difficult exam where I can "show my stuff" than an easy one where everyone else also does well.
  6. Feb 28, 2007 #5
    Believe me when I say I have made mistakes like this in the past. Maintaining those high GPA's are nice, but from what I can tell if you can master the topic, there are many other means of demonstrating compentancy for those that judge you that don't include your GPA.

    Everyone is entitled to getting a couple nasty tests, it is just going to happen. I think the best thing to do is make sure you know where you made your mistakes at, write themdown, or work through them, and then start prepairing for the final, where the information will surely show up again.
  7. Feb 28, 2007 #6
    True but if your looking for an internship they are filtering out the low GPA's and only considering the high GPA's, and from there you show what you can do.
  8. Feb 28, 2007 #7
    yeah i know what it feels like to make dumb mistakes and have them cost you grades. the key really is to study hard enough so that you know all the problems cold so you only lose 5-10 points in dumb algebra mistakes. also, i know i do much worse in general on my mid-semester tests because they are an hour long so its almost impossible to finish the test and sufficiently check your answers, but the finals, which are usually worth more, give you alot more allotted time so you have plenty of time to check your answers, so you should try and take advantage of that and ace the final. last year in a prob. theory class i was carrying a b+ into the final after screwing up a couple 3-hour tests (including one where i accidently skipped an entire problem), but got a 99 on the final and ended up with an A.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2007
  9. Feb 28, 2007 #8
    The teacher didn't give numerical value for a constant and he just annouced it in the beginning of the class ... we have big class and he never wrote it down on the board ... by the time I got to the last problem I ended up using the constant value he gave in the wrong section and lost points.
  10. Feb 28, 2007 #9


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    Staff Emeritus
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    If you did the correct working though, just using an incorrect constant, you can't have lost that many marks. I guess you should have either written it down when he said it, or asked him again when you got to that question.

    Anyway, it really doesn't sound like a huge mistake; I wouldn't worry about it. Just learn what to do if it happens again.
  11. Feb 28, 2007 #10
    What course is this and what sort of problem was it? I can't seem to construct a good notion of it for some reason.
  12. Feb 28, 2007 #11
    If i don't know how to do somthing on a exam, i explain what I would do after that step, and I usually get a fair amount of partial credit, worked in physics any how!
  13. Feb 28, 2007 #12
    There are professors in my university that will give you a big fat zero for this. Heck we had a guy teaching the split upper-div/graduate level E&M course, and if you didn't get the numerical answer, you wouldn't get any credit; all partial points were after the fact: if you work wasn't sloppy, or you didn't make any assumptions (by proving your assumptions before going into it), then you would get full credit, any alteration and it was partial points.Then again, he came from the EE department to teach the physics course.
  14. Feb 28, 2007 #13
    . just like in my calculus test.. There were three categories w/ two questions each.. the hard, difficult and not easy ... and the instruction was that you should answer 1 for each so 3 (10pts each question)... but i didn't clearly hear the stupid prof what the instructions were because he just wasnt clearr. what i did is that i thought what i need to answer is to choose only one category so i answered all of the not easy part...(2 questions)....

    And the results were that i got a 15 / 30 in the test.... minus 5 for not follwing instructions... honestly i coudlve perfected the test if it wasnt for the damn instructions.... And it was our pre final exam!!!
    what would happen if it was midterms...
  15. Feb 28, 2007 #14
    Don't sweat it and move on. One time I was taking an advanced economics test with only 2 questions with multiple subquestions to each question. On the very first question I had to solve a question like a homework problem we did before that was really easy. The question should have been a piece of cake, but for some reason I just blanked out and totally forgot how to solve the problem. Of course guess what the other subquestions under the first problem were on? The solution to the first part of the first question, thus I couldn't answer them. I got a D on that exam, but still managed to get an A- in the class by demolishing the other exams and getting an A on the term paper.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2007
  16. Feb 28, 2007 #15
    I hate that when professors give out easy exams. I would rather have very difficult conceptual/ theoretical physics problems instead of trivial exercise-like-formula-plugging-in computations. since in the latter case, the only thing the exam is testing is whether not someone has done enough problems to be good at them (make less mistakes, more fluent at computations).

    I mean yeah, computations are important in engineering, but hey not in the physics major classes that I am taking.

    *I specially hate how physics classes are tuned down (on theoretical stuffs) because many engineers are taking the course.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2007
  17. Mar 1, 2007 #16
    You can get all the theory you want on your own time or go to a college that teaches a separate physics class that engineers don't take which I've never heard of until you get passed Quantum Waves/Partials

    Also be lucky you can write out problems and maybe get some partial credit, alot of my exams where multiple choice so no partial credit, its right or wrong no matter how much scratch work you have that makes sense.
  18. Mar 2, 2007 #17
    multiple choices?? really? I've never had a plain multiple choice exam ever since I entered college. Heck, the only exam I remember that contains multiple choices are the ones in my Modern Physics (A survey course) I took last semester. Even in that only exam, there were only around 4 multiple choice questions... and the rests are plain physics calculations.
  19. Mar 2, 2007 #18
    Yah multiple choice exams are easy for grading on the professor and TA's and not good for the students unless you can guess when the answers are liek this:

    A. 1.40 b. 1.50, c. 1.60, d. 1.70 and keeps going so you can't just make a lucky guess.

    MY discrete math class was like that as well, class averages where quite nice, ~50% pulled of a B-
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