This note is intended to help you prepare for the midterm on Thursday, March 1st. It
should give you an idea of what to expect and some hints on how to prepare.
My exam philosophy
Sometimes, while I was going through my education, I encountered professors who would
seem to think that an exam was a good time to get their students to learn something new.
They would give questions on the exam that was new material, with the expectation that
students would somehow ﬁgure out the answer and learn something new in the process. I
don’t believe in that approach.
I believe that exams should provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their
facility with the material that has been presented in class up to that point. I also believe there
are diﬀerent levels of learning, and write tests to try and determine which level individual
students have achieved (for those interested, the model I like to look at is well presented at:
I would test up to the analysis or synthesis level in this class on topics that we spent
signiﬁcant time on.) I also try and use exams to discover topics I may have covered poorly
My exam actualities
This class is a bit diﬀerent than other classes I teach. Because we are going over so
much material, we don’t have time to discuss everything thoroughly in class. Therefore, as I
mentioned in the beginning of the semester, I expect you to be keeping up with the readings
assigned in the syllabus, and I will feel free to ask questions based on that information. The
topics will therefore center on what we have covered in class, but I will ask questions that
cover more detail than we went into in lecture.
In terms of diﬃculty, I try and write exams so that about 50% of the material can be
completed relatively easily in about 1/3 of the exam time. The average grade on tests I
write tends to be between 75%-85%, which I consider too high - I’d rather have about a 70%
average. I also have a tendency to make my exams too long for the time alloted.
One type of question that you may not have seen before is a true/false question with
corrections. The idea is that if the statement is true, you need only to mark it as true. If it
is false, you mark it as false, but then correct it to be true. You may not simply negate the
statement to make it true.
The instructions for questions like this would read:
The statements below are either true or false.
If true, mark them with a T.
If the false, mark the statement with an F and then show a correction that
would make it true.
Do this by either crossing out a single term (word or related words), by
drawing an insertion mark and writing a single term to be inserted, or
by circling a term and showing a single term to replace it. You cannot simply negate the statement to make it true.
For example, the statement "Today is a day in the year 1972" would be made
correct by circling 1972 and writing "2007" next to or above the statement.
You would not get credit for inserting the word "not" to make the statement
"Today is not a day in the year 197