Exams

This page describes my approach to exams, how they are graded, and how I handle requests for re-grades.

First, an important point - for most of you time with me (homeworks, lectures, quizzes, etc...), the primary objective is learning. Thus, I give you full and extensive solutions, the TAs and I will happily discuss your solutions with you, and we'll generally be as transparent and open as possible. Sometimes, this gets in the way of fairness - for example, students who are more pushy about getting their homeworks re-graded might get a few extra points. But that's a price I'm willing to pay for the sake of creating a more effective and meaningful learning experience.

For the final exam, my priorities are reversed. I'd love you to learn something from your experience taking the final, but my overwhelming priority is to assess you, and, crucially, to do it fairly. This is the fundamental driving principle behind all my exam policies.

Now, to specifics:

The primary complaint I get as a result of these policies is "but I don't want extra points, I just want to see where I went wrong." In answer to this question, remember: much as it pains me to say this, my priority in the final is not to ensure you understand where you went wrong, but instead to make sure you are assessed fairly. This is a necessarily evil of the way the academic world works, and the fact I have to grade classes on a reasonable curve. From past experience, allowing people to review their finals freely results in everyone who makes an appointment getting a few extra points back, which is a textbook example of an unfair advantage for some people (perhaps those with the time to make that appointment). Thus, after much soul-searching, I have converged to the scheme described on this page for optimal fairness.

I, of course, remain open to discuss this policy, and available to answer any questions you might have. I'm absolutely open to be convinced that there is a better, or fairer, policy I should adopt.