Monday, 11 February 2008


Academic Craze Project
STPM (HSC) | 2 subjects | 4 papers | 4 days | 12 hours | 48 questions | 400 marks
Here's one reflection on the last academic thing I undertook, before the official results are out next month.

Pic 1: Hyperbolic Functions (Calculus hardcover book)
I enjoyed Math T P1. I missed the last 3 marks though, mainly due to over-careful writing of answers - I was literally explaining the rationale for each step in each solution for each of the 12 questions in the paper.

Pic 2: Burning the midnight oil?
Once, the lights went out and I had to use our battery-powered "emergency/camp light". That candle is really just for show.
In a little over 3 months, some 200+ pages of examination pad papers were filled with mathematical solutions.

Pic 3: University books
  • Modern Algebra
  • Elementary Linear Algebra
  • Elementary Statistics
  • Calculus (& Analytic Geometry)
Other sources include Wikipedia, MathWorld, and ArsDigita University lecture videos. When you're on your own (there's no teacher around), you gotta be creative. Very creative.

Pic 4: Sample papers (Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia)
The real deal. 2005 and 2006. Bad news is, there's no markscheme for Further Math. I had to rely on hunches. So some questions took days to solve.
My "confidence feeling" for each paper:
  • Math 1 - 90-97% [A breeze. Done lots of practice.]
  • Math 2 - 70-80% [Not really a breeze. Geometry pawns me.]
  • F. Math 1 - 45-55% [Most cruel-est paper ever...]
  • F. Math 2 - 70-90% [I didn't expect it to be this easy.]

Pic 5: Exam day!
The evening after F. Math 1, I immediately poured my rants in a Word document. Here's a snippet:

I can’t believe that 3 hours went by so quickly. My heart was racing several minutes before the examination started, and I said my prayers to God as I tried to calm down. And as I did the first few questions, I was speeding. Definitely speeding, since I realized that (while doing practice exercises on past year questions) not speeding elongates my solving time to around 6 hours. And that’s double the prescribed exam time. In the middle of the exam, I looked at the front page of the examination paper: Answer all questions. (To quote Kael the Blood Elf) This is preposterous! Probably even an undergraduate math student wouldn’t be able to finish all questions (12 of them) accurately in such a time frame.

And in the last paragraph: "Now I wish that my Second Paper mark would leverage my overall mark into a much better grade. I wish for at least a pass."

It was that bad. The next Tuesday afternoon, I was rather surprised to be finished with F. Math Paper 2 at around 4.30+pm, which gives me about 30 spare minutes. I attempted the questions I skipped, and I was still left with about 10 minutes.

My respect goes with both the Mathematics T and Further Mathematics T papers (they would have good discriminating power/a high ceiling). I took it for fun, and I got kind of a serious beating while doing so.