Monday, 13 October 2008

S320: The exam

Well, the day finally came. It was an afternoon exam, which I find the worst. You are pumped up with adrenalin but nothing to use it on for most of the day. I decided after a few attempts at abortive studying to just relax, and watched a film instead. That worked quite well.

After lunch it was off to the exam room. We waited in the hall until the invidulator called us to come upstairs and sit down. There was a wall chart showing a seating plan, and after a false start I found my desk, and unloaded pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers, sharpeners, and calculator. Also my passport for identification, and the exam allocation letter. Not all the seats in the hall were full, but I think all the S320 ones were.

Whilst waiting for the official start, we were allowed to fill in our identifiers and other details like calculator make. I requested a second answer book, as I wanted to put down an essay plan if possible. Then the fatal time came and we all turned over.

I turned straight to the final question, and read up the title. It was a comparison of MRSA and C.diff asking why C.diff was doing so much better. I started to unload all my facts into a quick plan in note form on the 2nd answer book and planned to add to these as the missing facts hopefully drifted in during working on the other questions.

That done, I turned back to the start of the paper and read through the 16 questions, of which we had to do 10. I circled a few likely looking candidates and got eventually to 9 I thought I could do ok, and scratched around for a 10th.

Then I set off answering 1 per page. They went ok and I was doing OK for time, I generally find either I can answer them, in which case I can write down the details in a minute or two, or else I can't so thats that. I finished the 10 in just over an hour, and you are advised 90 minutes, so I was a bit ahead of the game.

Then the part B data analysis question, and a bit of a suprise. It was based on data we had used in TMA-1. It was nice to feel at home a little with that, although there was still pause for thought. The question had also come up in a past exam paper, but I didn't quite think it would occurr again!

Then onwards to the essay, and I skipped the title and abstract and wrote the main body of the article, with conclusion and intro. I managed to draw a reasonable graph of some statistics about the diseases, and a less than average cycle diagram of infections which I don't think worked very well. I finished off the title and abstract (10 and 40 words respectively) which are quite tricky to think up something relevant in that tight a word limit.

I now had about 40 minutes left, and started to check back through my part A answers. I always struggle with this, getting rather bored doing it. I know its important but by now I've about had it with the whole thing! I added the odd sentence here and there. Suddenly decided my answer to one of the questions was probably not answering it at all.
On quiet reflection, I thought there were a couple of other questions I could answer at least part of - so wrote something for those. Even asking for another answer book.
Then it was just checking all the admin was filled in, the number of answer books reported, everything tied together and then the exam was over, and in the hands of the markers.

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