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Exam is over December 18, 2008

Posted by keithkchan in Philosophy.

After working on the QFT exam continuously for five days, I finally have finished the paper and handed in this afternoon. It was a long march. Now I am back tending the font. Since I haven’t posted for some time and I have suffered a lot from exams, I would like share my feelings here.

Exams are always unpleasant. However exams are the imputus for people to work hard to learn the materials. No pain, no gain. It also give a relatively fair standard to access how much you have learned. When I was an undergraduate I cared the grade I got a lot. After I became a graduate, I realized grade in the courses do not matter much. In particular, to get a decent post-doc, what people care is your research work rather than what grades you get in the courses. So I don’t worry much about grades any more. Instead, I am happy if I have learned some things, especially they are useful in my own research. If you are still worry a lot about grades, you are still in the “undergraduate mode”.

Here at NYU, we usually do six core courses in the first year. It s meant to replace qualifying so students have to get B or higher in order to satisfy the PhD requirement. So people care about grades, fair enough. For those core courses, we have the in-class exam,  and you have to finish the paper in two or three hours. I am the kind of person easily make stupid mistakes in a stressful situation. So I don’t like this type of exams.

I believe that we should not suffer from course work, especially exams forever. Fortunately, this philosophy is also shared by our professors. The amount of workload is reduced substantially for those non-core courses. Some of them there is no exam at all, while others have take-home exam. For the QFT course, we had take-home exam. Although I spent five days working on it and I felt tired, I still prefer it to in-class exam. During this endeavour, my understanding of this subject has enhanced. Some people may copy from others in take-home exam, but that is OK since grades are not so important, and those who copy tend to find this subject not-so-useful in their research. Who care?



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