Monday, March 06, 2006

This test isn't going well…

I just wrote an organic chemistry midterm today, and to put it lightly, there were no survivors. However, I’m not one to give up without a fight. There are still a few things to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation:

Stay calm.

Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. Just because you don’t know how to do one portion doesn’t mean that you can’t do the rest of the test. There are still many marks out there for the taking. Remaining calm will help you think more effectively. Plus, you’ll live longer.

Keep the time and mark distribution in mind.

You should spend a longer time on something that is worth more marks. If you spend an hour on something worth 20 percent, on a 2-hour exam, that’s just silly. Which brings me to…

Skip around, do what you can.

If you can’t do a certain section of the exam, or just a question, skip it and come back to it later if you can. There’s no reason to lose time to something you won’t do in the place of answering 5 other questions correctly.

Use the test’s information to help you.

Sometimes you can only remember bits and pieces of a concept. However, even so you can glean a bit of information from other questions that are asking about the same thing.

If question 3 is:
What chemical is the basis of genetic information?
(a) RNA (b) DNA (c) amino acids (d) proteins (e) Butter
Hopefully, you can eliminate (e), then let’s say you know it’s not (d) as well. But then from there, you don’t know any more.

But if question 36 is:
What DNA-binding protein is responsible for gene coding?
From here we can see that there has to be some protein that binds to DNA that is responsible for gene coding. “DNA!! That’s the answer to 3! Oh that sounds familiar…” Maybe just vaguely familiar, but enough to get you the mark.


If there is no penalty for guessing, guess away. If there are 5 choices, you have a 1/5 (20%) chance of getting it right. That’s way better than the lottery, and people play that all the time. Even if it’s a short answer and you really don’t know, just try something that could sort of work, even if you know it’s wrong. You never know: Part marks.

Put what you do know.

This is sort of related to the above point. If you even know a little bit about something, put that and elaborate on it. Even a really really small amount. You could easily get a part mark from your small seemingly unimportant fact.

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