Not surprising, I suppose, a student writes:

     Prof. Patt,

     I was just curious if there was a breakdown
     for what our numerical grades on
     the test correspondes to letter-wise.  
     Like on the last test you said that a
     grade between a 60 and 80 was in the probable A range.  
     I know you gave the
     breakdown for how many people were in each point range,
     I just don't know how
     many of those people would have gotten an A or B.  
     Thank you for your time!

     << name withheld to protect the concerned >>

First, I hope I did not say a 60 on the first exam was a probable A for two reasons. First, I think a 60 on the first exam is somewhat low for an A. But, second, I really will not know until I average everything at the end of the semester.

Nonetheless, let me say a few things. First of all, the second exam was harder than I thought it would be when we made it up. As a result, apparently a lot of you did not demonstrate how much you really understand. ...or, at least, that is what I have been told. So, if you got above 50 you are probably heading toward a B or better. But again, I really will not know until I see the whole record you produce in the course.

The important thing at this point is to NOT give up on yourself or on me. If you do understand the stuff we have been doing, the final exam will show that. A lot of you did not have enough time to finish the second exam. That will not happen on the final. I will write the exam, intending it to take you two hours. AND, you will have three hours to do it. So, time will not be a factor. Understanding will be. Most students will finish before the time is up.

My experience has been that students are very often pleasantly surprised with the final grade (A, B, C, ...) in the course, because I do not just take the numerical average. I will not give you lower than your numerical average, but I often raise your grade if the numbers convince me that at the end of the course, you do understand things. So, the final exam has a weight, according to the Course Descriptor. And it will be worth at least that much to you. But if you demonstrate on the final exam that you NOW get it, I tend to weight that heavily. I have also been known to count much less a midterm if the overall picture suggests that it is not indicative of how much you really know.

So, between now and December 10, you can do several things, and I hope you will. Make sure you understand the material. Go over the exam questions we have had, making sure you see what we were getting at. Please do not memorize problems or answers -- not likely we will ask you to barf anything back up. DO know what the point of each problem was. Same for the problems on the problem sets. Test your buddies in your study group. Make them explain things to you and you to them. See the TA in office hours or in discussion section or see me if something does not make sense.

Also, there are two programs still due. Make sure you understand them. If you do not, see the TA. Please avoid any temptation to work with someone other than one of the TAs on a program. It really would be a mistake.

Engineering education is all about building on what you know. If you have been working hard this semester, it will probably show through on the final. It is not my intent to assign you a grade you will be unhappy with. But I need your help. Good luck getting ready for the final.

Yale Patt