Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Some days, partial credit is all you can hope for

I just finished my Cell Biology midterm; last week, I had my Molecular Biology midterm. Extrapolating based on these two data points [and you can always draw a perfectly straight line through two points =)], my takeaways are:

- It's a totally different way of thinking than I'm used to. The majority of both exams consisted of questions of the type "Here is some experimental data. What does it tell you ?", which is a very different tack from the [more straightforward] "Here's a problem, go solve it"-style of engineering-type exams. On the one hand, that allows you to be somewhat more creative when answering the question, but on the other hand, you don't have the safety net of mathematical logic to stop you from saying something that isn't logically coherent. There are no externally-imposed consistency checks, it's all up to you to make sure you don't leave any loopholes and don't draw unwarranted conclusions. It also left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied with a lot of my answers because I wasn't sure that they were "totally" correct.

- I have a huge problem writing something down when I can see holes in it. This very strong desire for completeness/correctness on my part was first pointed out to me by Christina when we were in Costa Rica: I refused to say anything in Spanish unless I was totally sure it was correct and so I spent lots of time piecing together sentences by consulting the dictionary etc. By the time I got one sentence together, Christina had usually already had a full "conversation" and figured out what we wanted to know. What this meant for my two biology exams is that I had to really force myself to write down answers that I knew weren't fully correct [but would hopefully get me a few pity points] instead of just leaving the question totally unanswered.

- Interpreting experimental data is hard. Probably all the more so when you've only slept a total of about 6-7 hours in the last two nights because of raging insomnia and as a result have a stuffed-up nose, a sore throat and trying to logically think through a problem feels like wading through thigh-high mud.

Very, very ready for spring break. Not that we're going anywhere, but a break from getting information stuffed down my throat is sorely needed.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Bill Tozier said...

Down your throat?

Well, that's one improvement over the old days, at least.

7:12 PM  

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