Sunday, March 06, 2011


Maybe blogging right now is not the best idea considering the amount of work that needs to be done, however I fear not for I am once again almost a week ahead! *keen

So after being tired with my obsessive poetry posting on Tumblr I have followed a dear friend's idea to start another blog via Blogger!

Being me I needed a theme, so I somewhat followed the theme of another dear friend's blog and decided to use this as a more or less commentary blog on the injustice and extreme fairness in the University of Toronto's Life Sciences program.

What should I comment on today? How about the intensity of the official Life Sciences calculus midterms? For those who are in MAT135, am I not wrong in saying that the last question is a hell of a lot of fun? Or pain?

For those who don't know about the class, basically on every midterm, the last question is hell. In fact it even tells you it's hell:

Oh, and yes, if you don't follow the correct procedure you get 0.

So unless you can get the last question perfectly, it's impossible to score above 92% on the test even if you get everything else perfect.

Not to mention after multiple choice number 10 things start to get annoying... I'm talking extremely long polynomials and fractions... very mean fractions. It's not really the solutions that are hard in the end, it's the simple math that most people will screw up on. One sign error here and maybe a miscalculation there (since calculators are not allowed) and it's all over!

By all over I mean each multiple choice question is worth 5 marks (Edit: IT'S ONLY WORTH 4 MARKS! HURRAY!). No marks given for work shown... in fact hell you can just circle any letter you want w/o doing any work and if it's right then you get the 4 marks!

Of course if one little mistake in your work makes you end up with the wrong answer, then that's 4 marks out of the 100 gone!

Though as traumatic as this test can be (I hear the 3rd term test is the worst one), you have to admit it's very cunningly designed. Out of the ~1500 students in first year life sciences, not many are really qualified for the upper level courses, so in a way this calculus course (which is mandatory) is used to weed out the weak. By having each multiple choice question worth 4-5 marks, students who can still manage to score above an 80% must have good attention to detail, check their work efficiently and/or are less susceptible to careless errors. These are all important traits for scientists and doctors alike and thus is deemed important to be tested on.

And for the demon question at the end of the test, it too has a good purpose. The last question(s) usually consist of problems that students have never seen before but should be able to solve given the concepts taught in class and pure hardcore logic. Students who are able to solve these questions, or are able to start on the correct solutions to these problems have the logic and problem solving mentality that makes a good researcher.

So while these tests are brutal to the average life science student, you have to admit; it works. And it works extremely well to make Life Sciences have such a high drop out rate!

But I personally feel attacked by the stress caused by this test; and so my roommate and I have decided that come Tuesday night, if we don't make it out of the test alive it will be due to the following reasons:

  1. Strangled to death by integral sign
  2. Cut into infinitely small vertical pieces dx
  3. Cut into infinitely small horizontal pieces dy
  4. Lost in a maze of special triangles
  5. Divided by zero and were thus transported to another dimension where calculus doesn't kill us.

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