Physics Phuck-Up

A Part IB NatSci paper had students in a tangle this weekend when it set two faulty questions to which there were no correct answers.

angry exam exam term mistake Natsci natural sciences part ib physics question second year Student tripos

This weekend’s exam paper for second year Phys NatScis contained TWO unanswerable questions, according to Tab sources.

We’re all familiar with that stomach-lurching moment when we realise we can’t do an exam question – but nightmare became reality for Physics students talking Physics A, a part IB paper, on Saturday morning.

lurching

He’s got it – that sinking feeling

The questions in question (meta) both contained a ‘show this is the case’ component, although both were missing the vital ‘i’ sign that would enable an answer to be reached.

An enraged Fitz student explained: “they missed out a ‘squared’ sign in a commutation relation and a factor of sqrt(-1) in a spin-operator matrix.” Simples.

According to undergrads taking the exam, one student pointed out the first error to an examiner after an hour, before a second was announced some 30 minutes later.

With just 40 minutes of the three-hour paper remaining, students were told that they would receive an extra 15 minutes to complete the exam.

Those who took the exam have been quick to express their dissatisfaction with this solution.

One Homertonian told The Tab: “Some people would have just skipped those questions without attempting them – but they still got extra time. The time I wasted on that question plus the extra panicking was way more than 15 minutes.

The swanky Physics phac

The swanky Physics phac

“The mistakes themselves weren’t huge but it also made me question whether there were other mistakes.”

Around 300 people are said to have sat the exam, and it is estimated that three quarters of them will have attempted at least one of faulty questions.

Whilst some were clearly quite put out by the errors on the paper, others were more philosophical about the ordeal.

A relieved King’s student said, “All I can say is thank you to the genius who had enough brains and courage to realise the mistake and point it out to the examiner – I could have spent all afternoon on it!”