Wednesday, August 26, 2009

further common exam details

Now that I have had time to talk with my advisor I have a few more details. As it happens 50% and up was a pass and 33% and up was a conditional pass. Also the number of students receiving a pass was about the same as the number of students who received a conditional. I overheard the chair of the common exam committee and another professor talking about the common exam in German. Now I don't speak German so I don't know exactly what they were saying but it involved something about the 90th percentile and conditional pass. When I talked to my advisor he said there were a "few" who did not pass. Also there were a number of faculty who were unhappy with how the lines for pass and conditional pass were placed. I take all this to mean that all but about 10% of the students taking it passed (conditionally or not) and that would mean only 2 or 3 people got just a plain fail. I'm sure the scores were basically clustered around 35-37% and they just had to put a fail line somewhere it would still do something and so they put it at 33%. I bet the people who failed got like 29% or even 30% when just grubbing for a few extra points would have gotten them a conditional. Or maybe it would have just made a whole buch more people fail because now there would be no tail to the distribution.

Also as a correction to what I said before it turns out that in general you will be required to take both 5010 and 5020 in order to pass the common exam if you got a conditional pass. But my quantum mechanics and my classical mechanics problems on the common exam were my strongest problems. Whereas my statistical physics and my electrodynamics problems were a little lacking. As it happens 5010 is about mechanics both quantum and classical and 5020 is about statistical physics and electrodynamics. So because I got strong scores on the problems with topics from the first class I can skip to the spring semester part of the class.

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