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Atomic and Mass Spec is done - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
Atomic and Mass Spec is done
The exam today was horrible. If I explain how it was horrible then people might think I'm whining, because the likelihood is that I've got a mark in the 80-90% range - BUT it was difficult and stressful.

I'd intended to do two of the mass spectrometry questions (set by Philip) and one of the atomic spectroscopy questions (set by Marianne), but Philip's questions were so horrendously awful that I ended up doing two of Marianne's questions and only one of Philip's. And I'd only really prepared to answer questions on XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) and AAS (Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy), so I had to try to remember a load of stuff about XPS (X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy) in the heat of the exam. Looking at my notes now it seems that everything I wrote down was correct, but I really did not want to have to do that.

I don't love Philip any more :P Things that weren't supposed to come up did - a 7 mark derivation of an equation which I have "don't need to derive" written next to in my notes! And he didn't say what the equation WAS, so I couldn't even try to make it up based on other equations that I do know. And while I whizzed through most of the first two questions in an hour, I then spent half an hour trying to draw the mechanism for a certain mass spectrometer fragmentation reaction (tropyllium ion to ethyne + C5H5+) only to get out of the exam & look at my notes & find we hadn't been taught it. So I sat there in a trance trying to get the bloody curly arrows to come out right, getting increasingly upset, and I could have not bothered and left the exam half an hour earlier! Argh. I am pleased that my prediction that he was going to ask about something with a benzene ring and a C=O double bond was correct, though.

I don't seem to be getting many comments recently. Are you all bored with my wittering about exam stress, or annoyed with my lack of attention to your journals, or have you all gone to Dreamwidth instead? I do love you all really, it's just that I can't study this hard AND take care of myself AND deal with my students and health crap AND be attentive to my friends :( I'll catch up over the summer, I promise.

Tags:
Current Location: in bed with the eee
Current Mood: cold cold

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Comments
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quiet000001 From: quiet000001 Date: 27th May 2009 20:06 (UTC) (Link)
I mostly just haven't had much energy myself and feel I have nothing useful to say about your exams. :)
baratron From: baratron Date: 27th May 2009 20:52 (UTC) (Link)
I don't expect many people to have an opinion on what I'm writing at the moment, because most of you aren't chemists. But random cheerleading is okay too :)
barakta From: barakta Date: 27th May 2009 20:07 (UTC) (Link)
Glad you survived the exam today - I can totally understand why you found it horrid.

I think the LJwebs have been quite quiet lately, so it's not just you.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 27th May 2009 20:19 (UTC) (Link)
Ugh. That really does sound badly designed.

Mostly I think I've just been in a not-commenting-that-much state lately, at least about things that aren't small intellect-questions. I've been reading, though.
baratron From: baratron Date: 27th May 2009 21:18 (UTC) (Link)
To be fair, it was partly my misinterpretation of the question, that "Identify and draw the structure of each ion and describe the fragmentation mechanisms for the formation of fragment ions" meant we should know the structure and mechanism for each ion. Looking over the notes now I think the truth is either "the mechanism is too complicated for you to learn" OR "spectroscopists are still arguing about the mechanism".

The thing is, the way my brain works, I assume that if I can't remember something, it's because I've spazzed out mentally - not that maybe I can't remember it because I haven't been taught it and don't need to know it! Seriously, spending half an hour desperately trying to come up with a mechanism and getting stressed almost to the point of tears is not a productive thing to happen in an exam. If the question had been worded "Identify and draw the structure of each ion, and describe the fragmentation mechanisms for the formation of fragment ions where possible", I would have realised after a few minutes that I couldn't do it because I'd never known it, rather than still assuming that I'd known it and forgotten.

It's a minor point - I don't think many other students suffer from self-esteem/doubting one's own ability issues anywhere near as much as I do. It's a mental health thing that is especially strong in people who KNOW that they're intelligent but have had bad past experiences with studying. But I should point it out to someone "in charge", because if I'd been in the big room with everyone else doing the exam at 10am rather than in a separate room by myself, I might well have freaked out completely. When a tiny change in wording makes the difference, it's worth letting someone know, right?

Edited at 2009-05-27 21:25 (UTC)
jinian From: jinian Date: 27th May 2009 20:31 (UTC) (Link)
Do people really say they're annoyed by you not commenting to them? I will kick them if necessary. You do what you need to do.
baratron From: baratron Date: 27th May 2009 20:55 (UTC) (Link)
No, but sometimes people quietly drop you from their reading list because you're not interacting with them enough :/ And I'm quite isolated at the moment because I can't be online anywhere near as much as usual, so I'm feeling especially vulnerable to it.

I'm planning a trip or trips to America-land in the summer. Have to figure out the details, but I'd like to see you.
hobbitbabe From: hobbitbabe Date: 27th May 2009 20:31 (UTC) (Link)
Exams are exhausting. I hope you can set this one aside and take care of yourself for the next ones.

I haven't been ignoring you more than I've been ignoring everyone else, what with a people-intensive vacation including Wiscon. Now I'm back at work, so more time for the internets.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: 27th May 2009 20:47 (UTC) (Link)
Hooray for the presumed result and boo for the pain involved in getting it.

It'd be interesting to see if the other students thought they wouldn't need to derive that equation.
baratron From: baratron Date: 27th May 2009 20:59 (UTC) (Link)
It would, but half of the other students don't even know which way is up, let alone difficult things like things that the lecturer said during the lecture. Most of them only go by what's on the handout and don't write any other notes. At least one of them sits in class listening to her iPod, which makes me wonder why the hell she turns up. Anyway... I bet that either no one will have done that question, or that it'll have been done leaving out that part (because there are people for whom 13/20 is a good mark). I'll just moan at Philip next time I see him and be happy with that :)
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 27th May 2009 21:06 (UTC) (Link)
Glad you survived the exam. It's been an age since I did any such thing and I don't envy you one bit. I suppose the nearest I get to exams these days is the stupid appraisal system at work. Design 6 challenging SMART objectives that you can actually achieve, gather flattering feedback from colleagues, evidence you did actually achieve your objectives ... submit all to your activity manager who adds his comments then passes it on to your development manager who ... sits in a closed room with x other development managers looking at and comparing the summary appraisal report forms (SARFS) of all their developees so they can place you in order of merit. Oh, and we've been told that in a five grade system where 1 is good and 5 is bad, the norm, the grade you get if you are doing your job competently and achieving your objectives is a 4. Not a 3. A 4. So either we have a lot of people who are overperforming in grade and overdue a promotion or it's a cynical ploy to make us all think we need to work even harder. Or maybe both the above. Gah! I'm glad I will be retiring soon. ;-)
hobbitbabe From: hobbitbabe Date: 27th May 2009 21:14 (UTC) (Link)
Also, I know almost nothing about AAS and XRF, and I really should because I help teach a course with them in.
baratron From: baratron Date: 27th May 2009 21:22 (UTC) (Link)
I could scan in my revision notes and put them on the internet for you :) My AAS notes are typed because I liberally self-plagiarised from my Lab Report OF DOOM, but my XRF notes are handwritten and my OCR program can't read my handwriting. Oh well.

What course do you teach that refers to them? Something to do with solid surfaces, or pollutants, or...?
From: skibbley Date: 27th May 2009 21:20 (UTC) (Link)
I'm mainly reading quietly. I like what you write.
From: kshandra Date: 27th May 2009 21:24 (UTC) (Link)
I have been focused on surviving the last 2-3 weeks, which were insanely overbooked and ended with 6 days in a hotel for the convention I work. I read a tighter filter on my journal during the convention (where you do reside), but don't recall commenting on anything I saw.
nessbutterfly From: nessbutterfly Date: 27th May 2009 22:09 (UTC) (Link)
I've been reading, but lack intelligent things to say. Sam's been sick and wound up in emergency struggling to breathe, then I got sick (fortunately the virus isn't as bad in adults as it is in babies) and then Linz wound up in emergency after having a box fall on his face at work. All very brain-frying.

Sorry to hear that the exam was nasty, but also good to see that you are progressing through them.
clawfoot From: clawfoot Date: 27th May 2009 22:11 (UTC) (Link)
I am very glad that I am in English and thus exams are really quite rare (far more common is the final essay, which you've got ages to prepare for and write at home).

I haven't been commenting on many journals at all, but I do still read them. :)
a_musing_amazon From: a_musing_amazon Date: 27th May 2009 22:13 (UTC) (Link)
Still reading - but it's ages since I did any chemistry (like over 35, from when I was at Uni) which is why I've not been able to comment much.

When I was a lecturer I used to really hate writing exams, and especially writing the marking schemes. Of course if you do that then hopefully either you or your moderators will pick up any non-sequiturs: not that we didn't sometimes make mistakes and ask the impossible of students: I remember once realising as I invigilated an exam that I had made a mistake in in - fortunately no student attempted that section.

As for me I spent most of today trying to make sense of some really stupid math: do they not teach anyone these days, and in particular polling organisation staff, how to work out Net Present Values properly?

Just hope you'll be happy with your marks, when you get them - I'm sure that you will do OK.

artremis From: artremis Date: 27th May 2009 22:27 (UTC) (Link)
hello.
i don't really know what to say to your chemistry-y posts
mjl From: mjl Date: 28th May 2009 00:24 (UTC) (Link)
I am not bored. It would be hard to be annoyed at lack of attention to my journal given that I never post anything. I just can't think of much to say about chemistry exams, other than taking up your time by attempting to understand bits of it with my half-forgotten A level, or saying "hope it goes well" and "glad it went well" repeatedly, which seems a bit feeble.

I have created an account on Dreamwidth just for the sake of it - I haven't posted anything there, and so far I'm just subscribing to a couple of people who also haven't posted anything, so all I'm reading there is news from Dreamwidth talking about how they are developing their stuff under the load of all the people creating accounts but not posting anything, or something...
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