Autumn Exams

(edited 2010-12-21) Exams are now over! I’m taking a train home tomorrow. Chances are I’ll be writing a lot more on this blog since (for a short while, at least) I’ll have time to study some things that I find personally interesting rather than being constricted by the demand of my courses.

MATH 147 and CS 145 went amazing for me. MATH 247 went pretty good as well, but of course, it’s innately a little more difficult than MATH 147, since you’re expected as a second-year math major to really know what you’re doing now. Ironically, I did a lot worse in my non-advanced courses: MATH 135 was extremely difficult (I dropped MATH 145 because the midterm was pretty jacked and I did quite a bit worse than average on it, which was already pretty low.) STAT 230 was slightly better, but still hard. So all in all, I’m not sure how this term went.

In retrospect I’m not really surprised with the way things rolled out. Basically, I stopped following MATH 145 sometime in early November (by this time we had already covered all of MATH 135’s material, if I’m not mistaken), ignored the assignments, and then transferred to 135 before the final thereby discarding my track record with that course. I don’t know if that was such a good idea – maybe I should have tried harder to stay in 145, since I find abstract algebra really interesting. However, I find numbers and the proofs involving them quite intimidating; it reminds me too much of a math contest. But as it stands currently, I’ll be compensating for that through my own studies of various books. Once I was able to slug past the number-ridden part of my abstract algebra book, and on to groups, rings, polynomial rings, and the such, I found I could barely put the thing down, even at 4:00 in the morning.

STAT 230 is another course I really neglected – I didn’t do any of the three optional assignments during the term. I seemed to always have three difficult assignments for other courses due the same week, and the evils of procrastination have not yet graced me with their absence, so probability assignments were always cast aside. This probably hurt me in the long run. However, my marks on the midterms were fine, and I was completely lost in the course as close as 1-2 days before either of the midterms. I’d just sit down for long hours and read ~100 pages from the notes, and the midterms never really phased me. The final exam was quite a different story; it was very long and a few of the calculations I had no experience with doing – I didn’t even remember seeing anything similar in the notes, but I probably just forgot.

Anyways, it’s over now. I can only hope that probability and algebra are subjected to a not-completely-insignificant bell curve. As for everything else, I’m pretty satisfied.

But I have learned a lot this term. (Yeah, this is going to be long.) Firstly, I need to always follow the material during the term and never try to dodge anything, because it just results in hours and hours of crunching during exam period. To give you an idea, I spent virtually 3 days in front of a whiteboard stating, proving, and erasing theorems for 247, and I still only did “well”. If I had been on top of it already, I could have spent those 3 days actually solving nontrivial problems which would have prepared me, to some degree, for the exam. Secondly, assignments are important. No, seriously, they are important. Every time you don’t finish an assignment, it hurts you. If you’re lucky, it may not be by much, but it still hurts you, and the knowledge gaps add up. You have to be really careful. I’d even go so far to say that I’d pick a 100% cumulative assignment mark over a 100% midterm mark. If you earned those points properly, you really can honestly say that you know what you’re doing, and that is what matters.

Also, CS 145 is getting split into two advanced CS courses starting next Fall. Haha, suckers! Glad I was able to cover all of first year CS in one term while I had the chance. Although I’m probably going to occasionally be seen lurking in the shadows of those lectures next Fall and Winter (if my timetable permits it). Always fun to have a look at what terrors they’re showing to that lucky, lucky little group of first years… 😉


About mlbaker

just another guy trying to make the diagrams commute.
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