Thurs, 9 Oct 2014, 00:57

I have received a few emails from students very unhappy about their
performance on the first exam earlier today.  I decided to respond
to all of you to let you know the situation as I see it.  Therefore:

1. First, the exam was too long.  I underestimated how much time the exam
would take, so I share in the blame for some of you not doing as well as
you expected.  I will take that into account when I look at your grades
in December for the purpose of assigning final grades.

2. Please do not beat yourself up over this.  This was your first exposure
to my exams, and although you have probably heard my exams are challenging,
hearing about it and experiencing it first hand are two different things.

3. You are not alone.  Many students did not do as well as they expected.

4. From my experience I must also tell you that some of you think you know
the material when the reality is that you know it only at a superficial level,
...and I do not do superficial levels.  This is not a serious problem this
early in the semester since you will have lots of opportunity to understand
the material of this course and to demonstrate that understanding.  But it is
important to not kid yourself.  You must realize what you truly understand
from what you don't and for you to take steps to improve on it.

5. A good thing to do when you get back your exam is to attempt to solve the
problems in your own home where pressure and time are not part of the equation.
If you are unable to solve the problmes regardless how much time you spend on
them, then you need to meet with the TAs or with me so we can figure out what's
not working.

6. Many students have been known to do very badly on my first exam and
then rise to the situation and end up with an A in the course.  If you feel
you really knew the material, that will come through on the next exam and
on the final exam.

So, the object here is to first note that you have been through your first
experience in taking one of my exams and you are not happy with the results.
Second, to recognize that there are plenty of students who have been able
to put this behind them, focus on what comes next, and end up succeeding
at a very high level.  I hope you become one of them.  The TAs and I are here
to help you make that happen.

If you wish, I am happy to talk to you whenever you want to stop by my office.

Good luck with the rest of the course.

Yale Patt