Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

4th June 2013

OU? Oh, you
Posted by at 11.24pm | It's My Life | 1 response

The last few weeks have been quite stressful, as my studies on Open University course MST121 came to an end. My final assignment was due in on 15th May, and then the final exam took place yesterday. Between finishing that assignment and doing some serious cramming for the exam, I’ve had virtually no time for anything else.

The prospect of an end-of-module exam was quite terrifying. I have not sat an exam since my GCSEs in 1999, and reliving that experience – the rows of desks, the dead silence, the invigilator solemnly roaming the room – was not something I was looking forward to.

The exam was held at the Gateway Conference Centre in London Road. I arrived half an hour before the 2.30pm start time to find my fellow students milling around, chatting amiably to one another. I felt a tinge of regret for not going to a single tutorial – in retrospect, I could have done with the support from my fellow students and tutor. But they were held in Wallasey, for heaven’s sake. Who wants to go there?

My one blind spot – trigonometric identities. I can get my head around plain trigonometry easily enough, but trying to understand that cos²θ + sin²θ = 1, and applying that to rearranging equations – well, I found it difficult. I devoted extra time to studying it, but hoped that it wouldn’t come up in the exam.

The Maths gods were not listening. Not only did it come up, but the question was 9% of the total mark. Bah.

The first part of the exam was multiple choice, which sounds easy, but the questions required some involved working out of answers, and all the possible choices – 8 for each question – were plausible (no ITV phone-in quiz answers here). In this section, there were no marks available for showing your working – you’re either right (in which case you get 4 marks) or wrong (in which case it’s a big fat zero).

I almost ran out of time, too. The exam paper was designed to be completed in two hours. At the end of the three hour time limit, I was still scribbling away. I had left a couple of the multiple choice questions to come back to later – in the end I just guessed the answers, as I didn’t have time to do them.

Although I’m not completely happy with my performance, the pass mark is 40%, and I’m fairly confident I’ve managed that, at least. Results are released on 19th July – until then, I’m enjoying the summer without any study work to do. 🙂

31st March 2013

It’s got to be-e-e-e-e…
Posted by at 6.27pm | It's My Life | No responses

For the last year or so, I’ve been studying with the Open University. I’m currently doing a maths module, and I’ve completed three out of four assignments, which means I am roughly 80% of the way through.

I don’t like to toot my own horn (not a euphemism) but I am a fairly good student and I consistently get high marks. This is great, and I’m proud. The problem with this, however, is that I have set such a high standard for myself that I worry to the point of obsessiveness that I won’t be able to keep it up (again, not a euphemism).

This does mean I go to ridiculous lengths sometimes. I’m writing my assignments by hand rather than word processing them because they require a lot of equations and graphs to be inserted. Handwriting is fine, until I realise I’ve made a slip of the pen and a small mistake has crept in. I could cross out the minor errors or break out the Tipp-Ex, but I choose not to because… well, that would mean I am not perfect.

So, every time I make a mistake the paper gets scrumpled up and chucked in the bin. I then start the page afresh. It’s time-consuming, but it MUST BE DONE. This was my waste paper basket at the end of a particularly intense study session recently:

Waste Paper Basket

Sometimes I genuinely wish that I was the sort of person who could coast at the mid-70% level. I think I’d be a lot happier.

This post is dedicated to the memory of all the trees who gave their lives to fill that waste paper bin