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Crumple zones and security mirrors

There are two types of strange questions: fun ones and annoying ones. This exam had annoying ones. The type of questions that make you want to punch the paper. The type where, rather than smiling at the challenge and giving it some good thought, you’re left gobsmacked by their sheer abnormality.

I mean, how is a level 2 physics student meant to be able to explain two safety features that protect the driver of a car? Or, even if he can explain them, identify them? Sounds to me more like general knowledge. Perhaps it’s a question designed to weed out those that study heaps. The cartoon very conveniently displayed two cars in a head-to-head collision with their fronts nice and crumpled, which gave me crumple zones. Seatbelts, of course, thanks very much Ronald McDonald about ten years ago, are another safety feature. I don’t ever remember learning that in physics class, and it’s almost certainly nowhere to be found in my book, but maybe those two on-the-spot safety features will get me somewhere.

About the questions, I’d just like to put it a good word here for the guy in the waves paper who listens to the radio (I forget the name… sorry, that guy). He clearly knows his stations — I hope that others that took this exam will follow his example. This question was a very applicable one because cool people will feel involved with the question! A fine choice. (The frequency, for those that didn’t sit the exam, was 91.0 MHz.) Actually, it’s not like me at all to go rambling on about random things like this, but I couldn’t help but to notice the coincidence.

When it took 45 minutes to complete a 40-minute paper, I got worried. I don’t know how, I managed to complete the other three papers faster and have 45 minutes left at the end to spare. Of course, those entire 45 minutes were spent checking over my work and realising I had made some stupid mistake on just about every page. At least this time I can’t kick myself for leaving the examination room too early.

I guess I ate a bit too much before the examination — I had both breakfast and lunch between 10 o’clock and 1 o’clock — which would probably explain why I took so long to finish the waves paper. Oxygen, according to Mr Rivalland’s theory, was wasted digesting the stuff and my brain as a consequence became slower. So, I learn, even if it’s an afternoon exam, get up early.

Naturally, physics being physics, my line-and-a-half rule that I applied for chemistry wouldn’t work here. A teacher once told me that irrelevancies and going round in circles will probably be penalised, since it shows a lack of understanding. So, for this exam, I tried my best to give concise and clear explanations that show I understand the question. It’s a bit hard to do when you’re making up most of it and you really don’t understand what’s going on at all. But I gave it my best shot.

My important examinations are now over, so I’ll be quite happy to return to other tasks. My next and final examination is in one-and-a-half weeks time, so that exclamation of brilliance you get from people when they finish their exams won’t be around here any time soon.

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