Monday, February 23, 2009

Oral Exam

I had my oral exam in geometry today. I spent almost the entire weekend (with some breaks for meals, roleplaying, and Diablo) preparing myself for it. The prof had given us a list of examples, theorems, definitions, and problems from the book that he might ask us about during the exam, and I wrote up and/or reviewed all of them for myself. Today at lunch, I went over a couple of the more complicated ones again, just to be sure I could do them. (There was one I still never could do properly, but the rest I was fine on.)

I had envisioned that he might ask me a couple of questions. I was worried that he might ask me the one I couldn't quite get. The grading scheme for these oral exams (and for presentations in this class) is good/fair/poor (95/75/35), with a possible 100 if you are magically perfect, or a 0 if you totally don't do it. I knew I would get at least the 75, but I would have been very disappointed; I wanted the 95 and thought that was realistic.

Instead of a couple of questions, he had me do problems (at a chalkboard) for the full half hour, and actually a little bit beyond. He gave me my choice of the first problem, and I chose a nice hard one that I did understand, and when he asked me if there was another one I liked, I said that there was only one I could not do, and so we discussed it a bit. (It was one of the homework problems, and he said that my proof was actually better than his except that I did have that one minor thing I wasn't able to do. So that was cool. He had copied my proof - with corrections - on the answer key after his own, saying, "Here is a better way to prove this, courtesy of one of your fellow students." This is the homework that I got the C on.)

He didn't make me do the one I couldn't do - we just talked about it - but we did a ton of other ones. I was able to handle all of them. He said, at one point, "These problems are too easy for you," and, for the first time in my life, I wanted to assure him that I had actually worked quite hard to develop the mastery I was displaying and was not finding the class to be a cakewalk at all.

In the end, he gave me the 100, which wasn't even on my radar of possible scores. I left feeling like a Brilliant Math Genius. He also asked me if I was planning to go to grad school in math, and said that I should.

Afterwards, we talked a bit about the course, and I told him that the homework that I got the C on was extremely long, conceptually. He said he is just starting to figure out where everyone is. And apparently my 14 out of 18 points was the highest grade on that assignment. So...yeah. He might need to adjust his thinking a bit.


Sally said...


And double-extra-special congrats for your pride in developing mastery through application of effort. :)

Tam said...

Thank you! I hadn't quite thought of it from that perspective, but it's a textbook (so to speak) case.