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Frequently Asked Questions (Online)

Table of Contents:

Course Related Questions

End-of-Semester Related Questions


Course Related Questions

May I take an exam early or take a make-up exam?

No; please read my syllabus.  I present all exam days on the syllabus the first day of class, and I do not randomly change exam days on my students.  My expectations are consistent—please plan ahead.  As I teach over 1,000 students each semester, it is impossible for me to fairly accommodate individual students on this margin.

Do you offer extra credit?

No; please read my syllabus.  First, offering extra credit to some students but not others is unfair.  Second, offering extra credit to all students unfairly creates work for students who have already devoted significant time to doing well in class.  Third, offering extra credit too often results in a larger quantity of the same or lower quality work, and grades are determined based off relative performance in the class.

Do you drop the lowest test grade?

No; please read my syllabus.  Once you take a test, it is in the system for good.

To adjust for contingencies (accidents, broken alarm clocks, epidemics, etc.), I allow each test to be skipped; this places the entire skipped-test weight onto the final exam.

I do curve tests for difficulty, and you can earn more than 100%.  Curving works better than dropping the lowest test grade for two reasons:  first, dropping the lowest test grade results in lower test scores if all tests are difficult, and second, curving allows students to know where they relatively stand in the class throughout the entire semester.

How can I do better on tests?

There are many reasons that you may not have done well on a test:

  • You should carefully read the chapters and attentively watch the lecture videosTake good notes when you are doing both; this will help you remember and understand the material better.  You will also have better notes, which you may use when taking the open book, open note online exams.

  • Devote more time to the class.  Some students learn from high school or technical school that A's are easy to obtain and very little studying is required.  The University of Georgia's standards are significantly higher, and it is not uncommon for students to devote an average of 8 or more hours per week to each class (16 or more hours per week for online classes, which are only 8 weeks long).

  • Take the homework seriously.  It is more important "how" to do a question than just memorize answers.  The key to answering questions in economics is first 1] identifying the correct economic model or tool to use to answer the question, and then 2] correctly applying that model or tool.  If you were fixing a car and needed a screwdriver, but you pull a hammer out of the toolbox, there is no hope of correctly fixing the problem.  So, first focus on understanding what economic variables or questions each economic model or tool explains, then learn how to properly use those models or tools.

  • Some people are not good test takers.  This is difficult to remedy other than preparing as much as you can for each test and getting a good night's sleep before you take it.  Cramming at the last minute and pulling "all nighters" actually hurts your performance.  Imagine taking a driving test after pulling an "all nighter;" you might know what you're doing, but you'll drive poorly!

    I gave a freebie survey question to over 900 students one semester during a test and found that students who got between 7 to 12 hours of sleep scored 3 points higher on average than students who received less than 7 hours of sleep.  Students who got more than 12 hours of sleep performed 10 points worse, but this was a small percentage of the class and they may have been suffering from flu or other sicknesses.  So, get enough sleep before a test, and if you are not feeling well, skip the test.

  • The worst case scenario is that economics just doesn't "click" for you.  I always feel bad when a student works as hard as he or she can, but that effort does not translate into performance.  All people are good at doing different things, and bad news can be good newsit lets you know not to focus on a specific field that you will fail at later, saving you resources.  Instead, focus on fields that you are relatively good at and love.

End-of-Semester Related Questions

How does your final exam policy work?

Students who take all tests have an opportunity to exempt the final exam. After the last tests are graded, I will calculate pre-final averages and email each student his or her corresponding letter grade, with directions on how to exempt.

I calculate the pre-final average as 87% times the average of all your tests and 13% times the homework and introduction assignment.  You will find these grades in the homework system.  I do not round each exam before entering it into the above formula, but I do round up the ultimate calculation if it is equal to at least 89.5, 79.5, 69.5, or 54.5.

Can you bump my grade up so I do not have to take the final?

No.  This is not fair to other students and is asking me to violate my professional integrity.  Ultimately, I must declare margins which satisfy the high standards set by the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, and Department of Economics.

Should I exempt the final exam?

If your pre-final average is high on the margin, then I highly recommend you take the final.  If your pre-final average is low on the margin, you should exempt and focus on your other finals.  If you are sitting in the middle, recognize that there is a lot of competition above you closer on the margin, and you should only take the final if you do not sacrifice grades in your other classes.  Think of the final as being the finish line to a race; if you are close, you have a short way to go.  If you are further away, you have to significantly increase your speed (performance) to pass those already close to the finish line.

Do you curve the final exam?

Yes; I curve the final exam as much as possible to bump up as many as I can, without overinflating final grades or lowering the standards set by the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, and Department of Economics.

What grade do I need to make on the final exam to make a/an A/B/C/D in the class?

You may calculate this using basic algebra, or you can use Ben Eggleston's grade calculator, which many students recommend.

How do I study for the final exam?

The best way to study for the final is to first focus on the homework questions from this semester. Many of the questions on the final are similar in nature. Next, study your notes.  I can always use different shifters, for example, than I discussed in class.  I don’t recommend rereading the entire book.  The final exam is cumulative, and I equally weigh each test's material onto the final.

Please also see "How can I do better on tests?" above for more tips.


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