Theory Exams

Exam Mode

Our theory exams are for the most part true/false questions, with the odd multiple-choice question thrown in, see the example. The true/false questions are grouped into topics with k questions each. Similarly, a multiple-choice question has k choices, with 0-k correct ones. Since we grade each choice of a multiple-choice question independently from the others, a multiple-choice question is equivalent to a topic with true/false questions, and we will only refer to true/false questions in the remainder of the text.
Each true/false question has two checkboxes, one for yes/true and one for no/false. You have to tick off the appropriate checkbox. If you do not know which checkbox is correct, leave both checkboxes unmarked (you can remove a mark if necessary). You get +1 point (normalized; the actual number of points depends on the grading scheme of the course) for a correct mark, -1 point for an incorrect mark, and 0 points for no mark.

There are several things you should know about our exams:

  • The exam is done on computer, and you get the whole exam in one go. When you press submit, you submit the test and thus finish your exam. If you submitted your exam by mistake, it can be restored for you, but you have to notify the supervisor at once!
  • The questions within a topic are randomly selected from a larger set, so it is mere chance whether an answer is true or false. It is possible that all questions should be answered with yes, or that all should be answered with no.
  • You get a calculator for calculations, but do not let this lure you into false security. Always do a quick mental plausibility check (we try to give calculation tasks that can be done mentally).
  • The points you get for your answers are simply summed up over all exam questions, so it is possible to get any number of points from -n*k to n*k on the exam. We set negative results to 0.
  • As a consequence of the previous point, do not try to guess answers you do not know. We do not explicitly punish guessing by making the point deduction for wrong answers greater than the point gain for correct answers, but our system does not reward guessing either. From experience, the best strategy is to be honest and not answer if you do not know something. Of course you can be lucky with guessing, but we know plenty of students who were unlucky...
  • A common misconception about our kind of exams is that they are easy because they boil down to spotting whether a statement is true or false. Please do not fall into this trap. Our exams test your knowledge and understanding of the material. We expect you to be able to draw new conclusions from the course material. In consequence, our exams are not easy. So please prepare as thoroughly as you would for any other exam.
  • Another common misconception is that doing an exam with true/false questions is like playing lotto. However, that is only true if you did not prepare and instead try to guess. If you are prepared, we can assure you that chance does not play any part in the exam.
  • We favor our exams over free-answer exams because of the high degree of fairness in grading. Whereas in free-answer exams, the person correcting the exam decides on an individual basis how much partial credit to award to partial answers, true/false answers are either correct or not, so the same standards are applied to all students. We believe that this advantage outweighs any disadvantages that our exams may have, especially since we take the formulation of our exam questions quite seriously.
  • Your exam result influences or determines your grade, so we take the whole matter pretty seriously: We do not include intentionally misleading questions, and we do not include "fun" questions. Our questions are also carefully checked for unambiguous phrasing. Since it can of course happen that what is clear and unambiguous to us is totally unclear to you, it is your responsibility to ask the exam supervisors whenever you are in doubt (the supervisor may however not be able to clarify things for you if the reason the question is unclear is that you are insufficiently prepared).
    Note that we often see students who know the answer to a question, but think that it is too easy or obvious and try their best to think of cases in which this obvious answer is wrong. If you find yourself in such a situation, please ask...
  • To make sure there are no erroneous or debatable questions in your exam when we grade you, we extract and maintain an exam statistic which tells us how many students have answered a particular question correctly, incorrectly or not at all. Naturally, we subject questions that stand out here to special scrutiny to make sure the question was correct, unambiguous and appropriate. If we come to the conclusion that a question was badly phrased and might be misinterpreted, or that the question was unreasonable, we withdraw the question.
    As a consequence of our rather meticulous system, do not expect to get more points in the "Einsichtnahme". By this time, we have already gone over all problematic questions several times to make sure we got your grade right. So use the Einsichtnahme for what it is intended to be: A chance to see what you did wrong and to learn from your mistakes.
  • Since we do some post-processing on the exams before we can compute the results, you cannot see your exam result directly after the end of the exam. But we generally have the results ready at the same or the next day. If the theory exam is part of a larger exam, it may however take several days before the results are published
  • Finally, a word of advice and a request: Be aware that if you are not properly prepared, you may not understand some questions, may believe you have understood them when in fact you did not, or get the impression that the questions are misleading (because they assumed knowledge on your part that you lacked). This will very likely result in a bad grade and quite possibly in some frustration on your part. In such a case, please be honest to yourself and fair to us and do not badmouth our exam mode or accuse us of care- and thoughtlessness when in fact you were not properly prepared.

Example

Exam questions (n=2, k=4):

 

1. Which of the following foods are fruit?

 

2. Answer the following questions.

 

Evaluation of the following answers of a student:

 

1. Which of the following foods are fruit?

 

2. Answer the following questions.

 

The student gets +1 points for the first topic, and -2 for the second, so that makes a total of -1 points. As you can see, pure guessing instead of not answering a question, while not worsening the average result, does increase the statistical spread and may cost you several points.
(Please don't think that these example questions are typical for our style of questions; our questions demand a lot more thinking from you!)