Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Satan's Horns Have Icicles on Them

I am a good student. The day I allow myself to get less than an A is the day Hell freezes over.

Welcome to Hell. Hope you brought your mittens. Blame Chemistry.
I have already been traumatized by the homework software. Everything we submit is online, through this website. It is the most horrible thing. I can have the completely correct answer at my fingertips, and enter it into the little box it provides for your answers. Then there is this little "submit" button that you click and it tells you whether your answer is correct or incorrect. Pretty standard for online homework. Except clicking the little button is kind of the equivalent of pulling the lever on a slot machine. The other day, I entered this big elaborate chemical equation, which was the correct answer by the way. Submit. Answer Incorrect. Then this little purple box pops up and tells you what you did wrong. I entered spaces between the compounds and the plus and yield signs to keep them separate. On another question, the compounds it was asking me about would not react. I entered "No Reaction" in the box. Answer Incorrect. they were looking for noReaction, exactly as it is typed in this sentence.

Needless to say, my homework grades have never been lower. And no amount of preparation can fix it, because it is not about understanding the material. It is about figuring out the little quirks with this software so it counts the answer correct.

(Side note: I love my husband, who just delivered breakfast to me in my office without me even having to ask.)

So I am having trouble with the assignments. So is everyone else in the course, but I don't sweat it. The prof is going to take the best 10 scores at the end of the quarter, and disregard the others. I can do okay enough, I suppose. What is important is that I have absolutely no issues comprehending what is going on material-wise. My brain is right there with him as he lectures. No Sweat. This will allreflect in the exams, whiuch make up the majority of my grade anyway.

So we report for an exam last week. I studied just like I do/ have done for every other bit of college work I have completed. I feel confident. I am not overly anxious. I've got it under control. I put my things away, except for my cute pink calculator, a pencil for the Scantron and a pen for the written short answer section. He hands out the test and I immediately get to work on it.
The beginning questions were kind of difficult. Some words were familiar. But it was like this exam was prepared for a bunch of PhD's. Not for an undergraduate, though upperclassman, molecular bio major. Are you fricken serious? But I hold it together and wade my way through the questions and try to answer them as best I can. I am fully immersed until He starts parading around the room, announcing that we have 30 minutes left.WTF????

Let me just explain something: I take tests in record time. I always have. Usually, I am very well prepared and know the answers without more than a simple recollection. I have been told by classmates that I am at fault for their poor exam performance because I get up and hand my exams in so quickly that it makes them anxious, as in "Andrea is done and she gets good grades so why is it taking me so long-i must be failing." And the lowest exam grade I have ever received was a 95%. Out of all of my college work. I don't get test anxiety. I don't have to study insanely. I just do my thing. Even for my credentialing RT exams. It was supposed to take 8 hours for both exams and I got them both completed in less than an hour and a half. You know I passed those because I am a practicing RT.

So for me to take this long for an exam is unnerving. And this shit is hard. Why is this shit so hard? I am thinking this as I try to answer the questions. I am actually starting to tear up as I see my 4.0 swirling in the toilet bowl in my imagination. This is not good. This is disastrous. Wtf is the carbon-12 atom used to define? It's atomic weight is exact by definition but why? I should know this crap. I cannot be logical when I am about to fail an exam. After I complete the last question, I flee as quick as I can. Marlboro is the only thing to make me feel better after that. I really want some Grey Goose to go along with it, but alas I have a lecture to get through.

Over the week I keep my cool by hoping that this is typical Andrea: That I did better than I thought, that I am being over-critical of myself. But the problem is that I have this philosophy: there are no bad grades that are surprises. Either you know the answers on an exam or you don't. If you don't, then you can expect a bad grade. If you do, then you can expect an A. Simple, really.I did badly. Everyone had horrible scores, so it wasn't just me. In fact, I had the highest grade in the class. I actually got a 55%, while evryone else actually got thess that 50%. Are you fucking serious?????? The only non-A I have ever received in my entire college career, and it isn't even a B. It is such a non-A that it is an F by normal standards (this class is hard and thus has a slightly different grading scale so in the world of UC Chem, it is a D). This isn't a non-A. This is the Anti-A.

I have been so distraught by this grade that I almost asked a resident at work for a script for some Xanies. Seriously. This is enough for me to abandon all hope of ever becoming a physician. I want to scream at the rooftops that I am Andrea-Fucking-Ferguson! That I do not get anything other than A's. Yes, this sounds cocky and arrogant, but facts are facts. I do not even get B's. 4.0. Perfect. That's me. Until now.

I would say it make me feel better to know that evryone else in my class had issues as well. These are some really bright people. This class is designed expressly for science majors. Everyone is pre-med, pre-pharm or something similar. I am not the only one who already has a degree. As a matter af fact, there is a group of about 6 of us who have already completed at least one degree. We are not stupid people. And we all failed. This tells me there was something wrong with the test, not us. But then again, I have never been the type to judge my success or failure by comparison to the performance of others. I know what I can do, and so I have high expectations for myself.

Chemistry is going to break me.

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