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Results and Understanding.

  1. Sep 24, 2008 #1

    How closely do you think the results you achieve in a course-- in the tests and exams-- are related to your understanding of the material? Of course, there is some correlation, but how good is it? I mean, perhaps all the problems you come across in a test are taken from your textbook, so you've seen them already, or perhapsthe material you were taught was very artificial. Certainly, if you're doing poorly in a course it's likely you haven't understood the material. But say you get 85% on a test, and someone else gets 90%, does that necessariy mean they understand the subject matter better than you?

    To put it differently: is it more important to do well in a test, or to understand the subject the test is supposed to be testing you on? These may not be the same thing. But are they closely related? How closely?

    It just may happen that someone else 'sees' the solution where you haven't; does that mean they understand better? Maybe you take a little longer to get to the answer, maybe for a bunch or reasons: maybe you're a bit more rigorous and need to convince yourself more, maybe when you do get it you have more insight. Maybe you're just not as smart.
    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2008 #2
    Doing well in a course means just that, you understand the course. A good instructor will ask question and give homework that will reflect your understanding of the material. However, I have had courses that all the test questions were the same from year to year. If you studied or knew somebody from a previous year you had an advantage. Part of college is knowing how to solve a problem and get by. In the 'real world' it doesn't matter how you come up with an answer as long as it works and gets the job done.
  4. Sep 26, 2008 #3
    I'd put it at something like 0.7 correlation. Tests measure how well you can apply the material. So knowing the material is half of it. The other is smarts and practice. People who do old tests are at an advantage also. Having a private tutor and test prep sessions also do wonders. Smarter people, who think faster, are also likely to do better.
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