Exam 1

Q. I am deeply concerned about my performance in this class gauging by today's exam. To be really honest, I was first really overwhelmed by having to go over 11 Chapters from both books. A lot of the material was covered in the class and explained very well but I felt reviewing over 300 pages in the exam was a terrible lot.

Also, even after having read the material and taking down notes in class I still think I fared very badly on the exam. So much so that I fear I will fail this exam. I was unable to attempt over 45 % of the paper due to severe lack of time. After having to spoken to a lot of people, I found I was not the only one who ran out of time. Im just wondering if you are going to consider curving up, on this exam. I am really concerned because this may severly affect my grade point average at OU.

I would really appreciate your advice on this matter and how we need to study and learn in this course. I have maintained a rather good GPA so far but I guess I may not have used the right techniques, methods to study on this course.

A. First, relax. The exam is over. There is nothing you can do at this point to change your score on that exam. In particular, worrying won't help. Worrying will only distract you from your other classes and other assignments, not to mention all of other aspects of your life that are, in reality, much more important than that one exam.

Okay, relaxing is easier said than done. Maybe this will help. As you said, you have spoken to a lot of people and found that many of them ran out of time. In fact, very few students turned in their exams before the very end of the exam period. These are indications that most students found the exam challenging. If the overall scores in the class are low, then I will adjust the grading scale for this exam. So, your performance may not be so bad, after all is said and done. Don't borrow trouble -- wait to see what your score is before you become concerned about how it will impact your grade.

If you want to take your mind off the mere possibility of getting a bad score, throw yourself into project 2 or your other classes. This will do much more for your grade point than worrying about the past.

As for advice on how to study and learn in this course, I would need to know more about how you are currently doing things, in order to make suggestions about what to change. Moreover, these sorts of suggestions really depend on what works for you, so it would probably be best to discuss such matters face to face -- then I can make each new suggestion based on your feedback to my previous suggestion. This is a good use of office hours.

However, one general possibility is suggested by your email, and that is excessive worry about amount of material covered. If you break it down into its pieces, that should help you see where you need to focus.

For example, chapter 4 from the Nutt textbook is an overview of computer organization. If you have the proper background for this course, then that chapter was really just a review of what you learned in a previous course and having read through it back at the beginning of the semester was probably enough to remind you of what you need to know for this course. Therefore, you could probably skip chapter 4 when you studied for the exam.

Similarly, chapters 1 through 3 from the Nutt textbook and chapter 1 from the Haviland book were all general overview chapters and probably introduced only a handful of new concepts to you, at most. Further, these chapters skim lightly over the top of the material without going into any depth. Therefore, if you made a note of those few new items when you read the chapters, you could quickly review them for the exam.

You could also note that chapter 6 from the Nutt book and chapter 5 from Haviland, et al., were covering the same basic idea (processes) just from different perspectives. Therefore, by reading Nutt chapter 6 (general process concepts) followed by Haviland chapter 5 (the POSIX system calls to implement processes), one would reinforce the other.

Again, I encourage you to come to office hours if you would like additional suggestions.