Martin's Blog

French exams

Posted by Martin Orr on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 22:45

In the past six weeks I have taken four exams: two on the courses from the first semester (October-January) and two on the courses I have taken January-February. The reason the latter came so soon after the former is because they are in different institutions - the first two were here in Orsay, the second two in other institutions in Paris with different timetables. These exams were hard, and very different from exams in Cambridge. (Note: this post discusses pure maths exams only.)

2 comments Tags exams, m2, paris, tripos


Posted by Martin Orr on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 22:42

I got my BA last week, and suddenly my time in Cambridge is at an end. The best bit of the graduation was when all the graduands process in academical dress (including hoods) from the college to the Senate House where the ceremony takes place. Many people, including all the bedders and no doubt a lot of unsuspecting tourists, came out to watch. I don't know if colleges which are not as central as Trinity have such a procession; and while we got lovely weather, it wouldn't be so fun in the rain (e.g. Magdalene got rained on).

A week before that, the Part II and Part III Maths results were read out in the Senate House (as last year - the results and graduation make the only three times I have been in the building). It is likely that this will be the last year that this is the first place where people hear their results. CUSU has been campaigning for them to be sent out by email before publication, on the grounds that getting your results in public is distressing for people who did badly. This has some truth, but I think that there is a significant advantage in learning your results along with your friends, as they will be in a better position to offer support than if you learned them privately (and maybe were then embarrassed about sharing them). This advantage applies to a much greater extent to the reading out of the Maths results, which everyone really does hear simultaneously, than to publication on the Senate House noticeboards as happens for other subjects.

1 comment Tags cambridge, exams, partiii, tripos

Part III exams

Posted by Martin Orr on Monday, 08 June 2009 at 13:32

The Part III exams took place in the last couple of weeks. It was quite strange for me to do exams where you are expected to answer all or most of the questions - the undergraduate maths exams have several times more questions to choose from than anyone could possibly do and in olympiad exams completing each question is an achievement.

The most common form of a Part III exam is questions which simply ask you to write out proofs from the course. Three of my five exams took this form, and it's quite boring - except one of those, where the content was very hard so just recalling bits of the lectures is a challenge. Elliptic Curves livened things up a bit with some computation, although that is rather tedious in a different way. And my last exam, in Modular Forms, had a much better balance of bookwork and problems, although it was the hardest exam I did.

no comments Tags exams, partiii, tripos


Posted by Martin Orr on Thursday, 19 June 2008 at 14:56

I am now officially a Wrangler (someone who gets a first in Part II of the Cambridge Maths Tripos). The results were announced this morning in the University Senate House - the chairman of the examiners stands in the balcony and reads out the lists of people awarded each class (another peculiarity of Maths Parts II and III; usually the list is just posted on a notice board outside the Senate House).

I will not however be graduating this year because I will be doing Part III Maths next year. This is not a proper postgraduate course - you don't get a degree at the end of it - and not eligible for postgraduate funding; until recently there has been an exception allowing you to continue to get undergraduate funding despite already having a degree. The government have noticed this year that this is no longer allowed, so now we have to not graduate until next year in order to continue to get funding.

no comments Tags cambridge, exams, partiii, tripos

Exams 2008

Posted by Martin Orr on Saturday, 07 June 2008 at 13:11

I had exams for the past week. For the past few weeks, I was doing not much but revising, although I went to Oundle two weeks ago for an IMO training camp and the final team selection. I did another geometry problem session, which was not as good as my one at Trinity because I had less time to prepare due to exam revision and because I had already used lots of my favourite questions on the first sheet.

I had four exams this week. All are essentially the same, and you are free to choose from 38 questions on all the different courses in the year. Of course noone has taken anywhere near all the courses - I took 12 and revised 9. In the end I did an average of five questions on each exam; I might have liked to do a bit more, but that is more than adequate for a first.

With exams over, I have a couple of weeks until the results with nothing in particular to do.

no comments Tags cambridge, exams, imo, teaching, trinity, tripos

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