Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Exam Update

I've taken three exams so far. The first was the speaking part of my listening and speaking class. For the most part, it went well. The only trouble with it was my story-telling section. She said in class that the stories shouldn't be long. Because we are in the room for the previous person's test, I gauged the time my teacher had the other student talk and told a story accordingly. However, when I was done, she said, "So short?" I might mention that this teacher is my one, "I'm watching you," teacher this semester. So I said back, "Oh, I can tell you more. Let me tell you about my birthday presents," and kept on going. I made some mistakes after that, though, so I was a little irritated. On the whole, though, it went well enough.

My second test was for my main class. I'm pretty sure I passed. I screwed up the dictation, but that's nothing new, and it was only 10% of the test. I'll consider any points I may get from that section to be a bonus to my score. Did you notice that I said passed in regards to this exam? This semester, my classes have been difficult. Having one test determine my grade is still an absurd concept to me - it tests how well you can cram, especially given the very limited opportunities we have to use the kinds of things we learn in class. So, realizing all of this, I decided that my main goal is to pass. Getting a 90% on your test here actually enables you to skip a level for the next semester. They are not expecting grades like that.

This leads me to the interesting issue, however, of how my classes and numerical grades are going to transfer back to IU. The grading system is really quite different. The number you get doesn't matter as long as you pass the test. That means that a 61% is fine for a score. The numbers don't actually mean anything. Classes are pass/fail. If you pass, you're good. If you don't, you don't move on. While a 61% may be fine here, however, back at IU, I think that means I won't get credit. I need some way of explaining this to whoever is processing my credit transfer. I don't know how much they've dealt with transfers from a Chinese university, but my guess is not much. Any suggestions?

My third test was for my grammar class. I think it's safe to say that there is no way I will be able to transfer credit for that course. I can say with very little doubt that I did not pass that exam. Strangely enough, I'm okay with that. Taking the exam, I know that there was no amount of extra study I could have done to make it better. I just need more time to practice and use what I learned in that class. It all hasn't completely sunken in. I think it will, it just hasn't happened yet. I'm sure small children continuously make mistakes with what I learned in that class this semester, and they have had years to keep trying it out. I had one semester and my brain is old. I don't really feel bad. I learned a ton from that class, even if it wasn't enough to pass; so I still consider having taken it a success.

I've talked to some Chinese students about not passing exams. They said it's a semesterly occurrence for them, and that I shouldn't worry about it. It happens all the time. It's strange, though, not passing a class. This is a new experience that China is providing me. I am humbled.

Speaking of new experiences, I apparently was in a small earthquake today. I didn't realize that's what it was at the time. When I got back from class today, I talked to a few of my friends and they asked if noticed it. I said, "Well, my chair did start shaking during the exam, but I thought the person behind me was kicking my chair." Stefanie replied, "Yeah, I was sitting at my desk and though Kate was kicking my chair, and then I realized she was across the room and it was moving on its own." Kate had been talking on the phone to our friend Oanh, and they both felt it at the same time. I've seen away messages of people around Beijing mentioning the earthquake. So, that was weird. I think it must have just been a tremor or something. However, that makes me a little glad to be heading back home. The idea of earthquakes kind of freaks me out.


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