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Hint: try to recall that thing, hope that helps (physics, my last exam)

I’ll get to the point quickly: the scholarship exam was easier than the level three exam.  I know I’m not alone in this view, because virtually everyone I talked to after the exam said the same thing.  Such was the ease of the exam that I finished with twenty minutes to spare, and that was without rushing anything.  In contrast, the “normal” exam had me pushed to the very last second.

My tactic for this exam, formed after I had challenged three model answers to the 2005 paper and, on each of them, been (at least) semi-agreed with by a teacher, was to write to convince rather than to explain.  Alas, the great skill of persuasive writing: this is why my answer’s right and your answer’s wrong.  I didn’t call on it.  There were no questions that could be, as far as I could see, interpreted in two different ways, or that were to do with practicality.

The only question, in fact, that had me puzzled in the slightest was the question to derive an expression for something to do with constructive interference in terms of three variables.  I managed to arrive at an expression, though somehow, I don’t think it’s what they wanted.  The hint made a reference to Young’s double slit experiment, which I don’t remember (or never bothered to learn properly), so I didn’t quite understand what they wanted.  My final expression had three occurrences of Pythagoras’ theorem, which I managed to reduce to two by factorisation, and an additional variable.  I still have no idea what they wanted.

With the exception perhaps of that, and the first question (an extended discussion on nuclear physics), the questions were all quite straightforward.  There was little need to call on insight or integrate different skills (though, now that I look at it, the performance standard doesn’t require it).  The answers to questions were all reasonably apparent, and the exam was considerably shorter than the 2005 one.

As a consequence, I fear the pass mark will be somewhat higher.  After all, the focus of last year’s examiner’s report was how useless candidates were, with less than ten per cent of candidates gaining 30 marks out of 54 (though the pass mark, unlike calculus, did end up being fifty per cent).  My predictions for this year, which was out of 48: for scholarship, 30; for outstanding, 40, take or give one or two, and even that might be generous.  Higher than last year’s (27 and 40 respectively out of 54), though as I say, this year’s exam was easier.

At last, the last of my four NCEA examinations and three Scholarship examinations has finished, which for me signals the end of the academic year.  I finish later than most of my peers, I understand, though not all.  So, I get to put my feet up and relax, to some extent: I still have school-related bits and pieces to deal with in the coming week, but nothing major.  The NCEA results come in January and the Scholarship results in February: a long wait (but a worthwhile one if it means scripts are marked properly), though in the midst of Christmas and the New Year, one easily forgotten about.  When they do come, though, it’ll be interesting to see how they turned out.

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