First midterm

The article in French: Premier midterm

Exchange year is an exceptional experience, certainly, but it still is about studying.

For instance: today morning, I had my first midterm exam, in Foreign Policy: Asia (POLI 349).

We were expected to have reviewed main concepts of theories of international relations and the case-study of Japan. Both lectures and readings were material for the midterm; that is why I had to read/learn about 460 pages (in France, readings are not necessarily mandatory, but mostly recommended).

However, this task was made easier because I took part to a reading group. Each member of the group had to write a detailed summary of two articles and to share them with other students. This peer work was efficient though there were minor problems (summaries were sometimes very short, or very late; some students even forgot to send their summaries…).

In this midterm exam, there were identifications and an essay. The exam lasted 1.5h; actually it lasted one hour and twenty minutes, because in McGill you officially have to substract five minutes at the beginning and at the end of each class (10:00-11:30 becomes 10:05-11:25). I forgot this ‘detail’, and I was surprised when the exam was finished because I expected to write during ten minutes more. Thus, my essay about the ‘trading state’ model was really perfectible.

I also noticed that most students write on every second line (I do not know how to explain this: it is as if their booklets were double-spaced); thus the recommendations of the instructor about the length of the essay become quite different. Besides, they write with ballpoint pens, whereas in France, some teachers would become mad if you did not write with a fountain pen.

The midterm exam was not the only ‘event’ today. I also got my first mark in McGill. I got about 45 over 50 in an assignment in statistics. Though it might seem a pretty good mark, I was quite disappointed because I did ridiculous mistakes (I miswrote some steps in calculus), and because it was very easy statistics (Exploratory Descriptive Analysis). However, I saw other marks, and there were lower than mine… so I puts that into perspective.

And next? After writing this post, I will have to go back to work: I will have three other midterm exams on the next week. Not one per day, but three in less than 30 hours!

  • Wednesday, 8.30-10.00
  • Thursday, 11.30-1.00
  • Thursday, 1.00-2.30

I do not know how I will manage to study without becoming crazy; anyway I will have to. You may also notice that I have two exams, one just after the other. Let’s hope that leaving the first exam room, crossing the (whole) campus and coming in the second exam room will not take too long! And approximately, these three exams mean: three times more reading, three times more speed-writing, etc.

However, I am still serene. I do not have any GPA in McGill, it is more an education experience… though it is marked. But I do not have to worry about a A- or a B.


P.S. No picture in this article, sorry!

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