Wednesday, 3 October 2007

S204: Revise, revise, revise

All the TMAs are in, all the boxes ticked, there is only the exam left, so there is just revision to be done.

This is not the most fun you can have, it has its own peaks and troughs. You revise a section of the course, and feel all keyed up for it. Then, looking at a past exam paper you find a question on that section, and typically I find I can either answer somewhere between 1/4 and 2/3rds of it, or they use one of the more obscure terms - like autochthonous (I mean, really!) and suddenly you are all at sea. If you knew what the word meant you could have a stab at the answer. In the above case, I suspect this is derived from latin, and apart from a possible guess at something to do with automation and time, there is no headway to be made (its neither of those BTW). Its in the book, I should have learnt it, but there are hundreds of such words!

Anyway, I spent a lot of time going through short answer questions. You have to do 9 out of 12 or these in the exam, and then 3/6 - and they cover everything. So its a good way to check your understanding. To share the pain, I keep posting question I come across, or invent on the S204 bulletin board for others to answer, and some post their own back. Its a good way to see how well you're doing.

The data analysis segment of the exam is difficult to revise for - there is some biology there, but its much more related to interpreting or plotting graphs, making reasonable predictions and so on.

The essay section is the worst. Write for 45 minutes on one of the 5 topics given. If this hits one of the areas I like, I'll probably be ok. If it doesn't - I'm going to struggle. We know by now the broad areas they will be on, so you don't need in-depth knowledge of everything, but you do need deep knowledge of some parts. There is always the horror that it will be an oblique question. I have a reasonably good knowledge of the inner workings of plant transport systems - which is one of the areas. However an old paper has a title "Environmental factors affecting photosynthesis". So I have nightmares that there will be something like "Water transport in the rain" or some such. You have all this knowledge about water transport, but suddenly most of it is not applicable to the question. Arrghhhhhhhh.

Still - two more weeks and I'll know how bad it can get. Who knows, I might be surprised - and I'm hoping in a good way.

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