Exams for the Engineering Physics Class

This page describes exams for the Engineering Physics (I) class PHY 303K as taught in the Spring semester of 2007 by Professor Kaplunovsky.

There will be four "mid-term" exams on Wednesday evenings during the semester and one comprehensive final exam at the end. There will be no make-up exams for any reason whatsoever. If you miss one mid-term exam, it will not affect your grade. But if you miss two mid-terms or the final exam, your grade will suffer.

If you cannot take an exam because of illness or other bona fide emergency, notify me as soon as possible, and I will decide on an appropriate remedy. But there will be no remedy for students who missed an exam because they forgot or were mis-informed of its date, time or location, could not start their cars or park them on campus, had dead batteries in their calculators or their pencils eaten by dogs, or had any other asinine excuses.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. A student who cheats on an exam will receive a zero score.

The exams will be graded by the same computer that grades the homeworks. But all exam problems are multiple-choice: some are qualitative, and in others you are given a choice of ten different numeric answers and you find which is correct.

On exams, you answer questions using a scantorn (a bubble sheet) instead of WWW.

Make sure to bubble in everything you write down — the scanning machine reads your bubbles, not your letters.
Your bubble sheet should have your name, ID, and the version number of your exam pre-printed and bubbled in; make sure this information is correct or your test will not be graded!

Date, Time and Location of the Exams

Exam Logistics

Exam Procedure

Multiple Choice Problems

All exam questions are of a multiple choice kind. Make sure you read all possible answers proffered on the problem sheet — sometimes a few answers are printed on the next page — before answering the question.

Remember that a wrong choice yields a negative pointage; this is worse than no answer at all, which would give you exactly zero points. (Specifically, choosing a wrong answer out of N possibilities "earns" you -100%/(N-1) of the questions pointage; for example, a wrong answer on a 5-point, 5-choice question "earns" you -1.25 points.) So, if you are clueless about a particular question, it is better to leave it un-answered. Giving a randomly chosen answer is like playing an honest roulette: The odds are even, but mind the Murphy's Law.

On the other hand, if you have rejected most answers as definitely wrong but still cannot choose which of the remaining two answers is correct, your best bet is to select the answer you like most. It is a bet — and you may lose — but the odds are in your favor.

If you change your mind, make sure to erase your wrong answer cleanly; otherwise, the scanning machine may still read it.

On numerical multiple-choice questions, the correct answer may be slightly (but only slightly) different from your result because of the round-off errors. You should select the answer that is closest to your result. Note that if your result is nowhere near any of the 10 answers proffered on the problem sheet, then you are probably wrong. On the other hand, if your result is very close to two or more of the 10 proffered answers, you should consult with a proctor (something may be wrong with the problem).

On questions involving multiple choices of algebraic expressions, first derive the correct expression, write it on the scratch paper, then compare it to the expressions proffered on the problem sheet. Select the expression that's algebraically identical to your answer. If none of the expressions fit, consult with a proctor. (Maybe you are wrong, but sometimes the problem is misstated.)

Bubble Sheet Rules

On exams, you answer all questions on the bubble sheet — simply fill the bubble corresponding to the answer you selected. Make sure you fill the right bubble; check both the question number and the answer number. Remember that the scanner and the grading computer read your bubbles and not your mind — if you don't bubble in your answer, it does not count, and the mis-bubbled answers count as wrong.

Use a soft pencil to fill the bubbles and fill them completely. The scanning machine does not read ink and it may get confused by partially filled bubbles.

Do not delay bubbling-in your answers till the last minute of the test, you may run out of time. It is best to bubble in each answer as soon as you are done with the question. And if you later come back to an already answered question and discover a mistake, use your eraser. Make sure to erase everything cleanly; otherwise, the scanning machine may still read it.

Make sure your pre-printed bubble sheet has correct bubbles for your ID and for the version number of your exam. If you have to start with a blank bubble sheet, make doubly sure you bubble in your ID and the version number. Without this information, your exam cannot be graded and you will receive a zero score.

Keep a record of your answers on your problem set, and take it with you after the exam. If the scanner mis-reads some of your answers, let me know ASAP.

Miscellaneous Advice

On exams, time is always short. Do not get stuck and spend too much time on one hard question while many easy questions remain un-answered. If a problem feels too hard, move on to the next problem — or to any other problem you know how to solve. Your best strategy is to answer all the easy questions first, then go back to the medium-hard questions, and leave the really hard questions for the last part of your exam.

Some problems are multi-part, i.e. involve several related questions. Often (but not always) the questions can be answered out-of-sequence. So, if you have difficulty with the first part of a problem, don't give up; instead, take a look at the second (or third, etc.) part and see if you can solve it first.

Some problems may be poorly written (you have already seen a few on your homework assignments). If you are confused by a question and are not sure what exactly are you supposed to calculate, ask a proctor to clarify; do not rush to calculate a wrong thing.

Finally, if you need the value of a physical constant (eg., g=9.8 m/s2) and it's not given in the text of the problem, ask the proctors to write it on the blackboard.

Exam Material

Mid-term #1:
Textbook chapters 1 through 4 and beginning of chapter 5.
Mid-term #2:
Textbook chapters 5 through 7 and §8.5.
Mid-term #3:
Textbook chapters 8, 10, 11, 12, and §13.1–2.
Mid-term #4:
Textbook chapters 14 through 17
Final Exam:
The whole course, including chapter 18.

Please notice that the exams may cover material that wasn't adequately covered by homeworks or explained in lectures. To avoid unpleasant surprises, read the textbook carefully, make sure you understand all the examples and can answer all questions at the ends of chapters. Then do as many textbook problems as you can.

Also, keep in mind that mid-term exams 2, 3 and 4 may refer to the material studied earlier in class — and some of the questions will test your knowledge of such early material again and again and again. Don't forget the test's material as soon as the test is over — it's a very bad idea.

Last Modified: March 27, 2007.
Vadim Kaplunovsky