Thursday, November 29, 2007

Test results...

The title is a bit misleading; I am, after all, not talking about the results of some important medical test, like a pregnancy test or an HIV test. What I mean when I say "test results" is the results of last night's chemistry test.

It was the fourth and final test before our final exam and we had an entire week off (think Thanksgiving) to study for it. The test covered four chapters of information and dealt with molecular orbital theory, Lewis structures, molecular geometry, periodicity and trends in the periodic table and atomic structure. It was supposed to be a hard exam, and I'm hovering really close to the A-/B+ line, so I studied extra hard, all vacation long. I spent two whole days doing practice problems. I did the practice exam twice and the review exercises three times. I reviewed for three hours last night before the exam.

Our class has decreased in size all semester. Initially, there were 185 students registered. At add/drop, we lost a good chunk of them. I'd say we're currently at about 140 students. I want to believe that we lost the portion of the class that was causing our low test averages, but now I'm not so sure.

We take our tests in a large auditorium and we have two hours to complete them before our pens are ripped from our hands and we're sent on our way to ponder how much of an effect those last incomplete problems will have on our grades. Two hours has never been enough time to complete an exam and double-check the answers in this particular class.

So, you can imagine my surprise last night when at 8:00, halfway through the two-hour allotment, a student handed in his exam and sauntered from the room. Now, the test was much easier than previous tests in that it was largely multiple choice, but it wasn't "leave an hour early" easy. I told myself that he must've just guessed or given up. Still, I kept getting the nagging feeling that I was astonishingly more intellectually stunted than my classmates.

Twenty minutes after the first student finished there was a exodus of almost half of the class! I kept thinking, How could these kids be so smart? and my confidence level was sinking faster than something really heavy in fresh water. I wondered how I could expect to get into grad school with those kids as my competition.

Then something happened that snapped me back into reality and allowed me to focus on the remaining six questions: my professor picked up one of the handed-in exams and smiled. He didn't smile with pride. He smiled because he could tell, with a quick glance, that the exams were crap.

And I confirmed that today by checking our WebCT site. The class average: 57%.


My score was 125/140, or 89%. Because of the low grades, we have an opportunity to get an extra 15 points by doing some Lewis structure problems. That's good for me, since that's my strong point. Which, in the end, will give me another 100% test score, making it much more likely that I'll get that A!

1 comment:

Zach Miller said...

57%? That's horrifying! See? I told you chemistry sucks! :-)