Exams unfairly unrepresentative of classwork

So last week I took the first Statics exam of my career here at Mines, and I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t surprised at how it went. I have become jaded towards exams at this school because our faculty seems to enjoy giving us exams that are much more difficult than anything we’ve done before; whether it be in-class problems or practice exams from the previous year. Sadly, this exam only served to reinforce that bad attitude I’ve developed because it was far harder than the practice exam provided.

Silly me, I should have learned from PHGN 100 last semester, but no. When a professor gives you a practice exam, telling you that this level of difficulty is what you should expect on the actual exam, you need to take that with a 55-gallon drum of salt and study your backside off. As much as I hate to say this, and I really do, I don’t think our professors really understand how hard this material is for us lowly students. Just because the concepts are the same and not necessarily that difficult, doesn’t mean the problems are the same. I assure you, they are not.

It seems odd to me to say this, but there is one glimmer of hope. The PHGN 200 exam I took last week was surprisingly easy. I scored higher than any exam in PHGN 100, and Dr. Kohl affirmed that the average was higher than in previous years. One can only wonder: what is going on here? I’m guessing that professors must constantly asses how much ‘smarter’ this years’ students are in comparison to previous years, but you would think that when they give you a practice set, that’s what you need to know how to do. But alas, such is not the case for those of us that have the misfortune to be in Statics this semester.

It would be unjust for me to harp on our professors and say that they intentionally try to fail us, but I must admit, at times it seems as though that were the case. I recognize the difficult job they must have, and I acknowledge the effort they put into teaching us. My beef is more with what seems like a simple act of misinterpreting data. I don’t think the Statics professors and the PHGN 100 professors really know how much their students can do. The exam that was supposed to assess our knowledge of the principles taught was ‘geared’ to a much higher common denominator than actually existed.

Is it too much to ask that exams be at least similar to the practice problems and homework? That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, even when I say it out loud to myself. No, no, it really isn’t an unreasonable request. Sure, we’re Mines students, we’re the smartest of the smart, we set records, we define the upper echelon. While it sounds nice to hear these things shouted at us every day, it doesn’t help that we’re getting humiliated and stressed out by an exam that is obviously beyond our ability. It’s bad enough that we have all these expectations without the added pain of an exam we know we can’t beat.

If it’s all the same to you, I’d like an exam that’s actually similar in difficulty to problems I’ve already done. I mean, it’s not like I have any other classes that I have to study for or anything. This is your friendly neighborhood POed Mines Student, signing off.



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