11-1100/Term Test

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The MAT 1100 Core Algebra I Term Test took place on Tuesday October 25 at 10:10AM at Bahen 6183. Here's the PDF: TT.pdf.

The collective got a grade of 2/6=33% on the Cheese or Font test.

The average grade is about 58/100 and the standard deviation is about 23. The complete list of grades is as follows:

100 90 88 74 70 70 70 67 66 62 61 54 52 48 45 34 32 32 30 11

Following is an almost-verbatim quote of what I wrote after last year's term exam. The bad news is that nothing changed. The good news is that last year the actual final grades ended up a lot better, so we should be concerned yet we should not despair:

In as much as information theory is concerned, this is the ideal list of grades. It gives me (and you) much more information than a list clustered around 95. Yet I was hoping for a list clustered around 95, and I'm sure that so did you.
So what went wrong? Did I teach badly? Did you study badly? Was the exam inappropriate? Was the grading unfair? Did I fail to communicate what would be expected on the exam? What do we do so that the results of the final cluster around 95 (or at least, 90) without voiding this class of any content? I'll appreciate your opinions, either verbally or in writing, either publicly or in private.
My current best guess is that while a certain minority of the students are under-prepared and while certain topics were not covered optimally, the teaching was overall reasonable and the majority of the students are excellent and well prepared. Yet I failed to communicate to you what is expected in such an exam (a complete mastery of everything covered in class or in HW) and some of you were a bit over-confident and did not study as well as you should have.
The last date to drop this class without it appearing on your transcript is Wednesday November 3rd [2010] Monday October 31st, 2011. If you are sure that for whatever reason taking this class was a mistake for you, drop it before it is too late. Yet my feeling is that most if not all of you are in the right place, and that once we understand what went wrong with this exam, better results will follow.

Further Thoughts

Upon further thought and after talking to some students and some email exchanges, I think I made (at least) three mistakes around this term exam:

  • It was too long, overall, especially given my insistence that "neatness counts, language counts". Asking just three of the four questions would have been enough.
  • Question 3 required too much abstract thought given the time constraints. I should have either given a significant hint or left it out.
  • I shouldn't have "rushed to publish" - I should have given myself a little more time to think before returning the exams. Marking up is always possible, but it is better done before the grades are first published, not after.

Anyway, in light of the first point above, I will consider this exam as if the perfect mark in it was 75, effectively multiplying every grade by a factor of 4/3. The few people whose grade now is more than 100 get to keep those extra points, though the maximal possible grade in this class remains an A+.

People who haven't tried don't realize how hard learning may be, forcing you to confront your fears and insecurities (yet it is well worth it!). Try teaching (recommended!) and you'll see it's hard too. After more than 20 years I still make mistakes.


Remember! Grading is a difficult process and mistakes always happen - solutions get misread, parts are forgotten, grades are not added up correctly. You must read your exam and make sure that you understand how it was graded. If you disagree with anything, don't hesitate to complain!

The deadline to start the appeal process is Thursday November 3 at noon.

Dror's notes above / Student's notes below