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Thread: Math/CS exams at USyd

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    Math/CS exams at USyd

    Sorry if these questions have been asked before. I have tried Googling and also searching these forums, but I couldn't find anything.

    I'm thinking of transferring from UTS to USyd (or maybe UNSW) because of the variety and flexibility of subjects available. UTS degrees are all really inflexible - you have to know exactly what you want to study, which I do not.

    Am I missing something, or are the USyd handbooks an absolute trainwreck? Even with the new CUSP system, it's very difficult to find detailed information about subjects. Also, am I right in thinking that you can't view any timetables until after you have enrolled?

    My main issue is with the assessments for some units in the science and IT faculties. A lot seem to have exams weighted as high as 70%. I have ADHD and get pretty bad exam anxiety, so this is way too much pressure for me.

    > What is the grading like on exams. If you do really well in the coursework but poorly on the exam (as a result of time management - not just straight up getting everything wrong) do you generally find that your overall mark turns out pretty good?

    > Do any math/CS/IT/science units allow you to bring notes or "cheat sheets" into exams? Or is it the traditional (horribly outdated) closed-book 3-hour exam?

    Please mention specific units in responses

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    Senior Member sida1049's Avatar
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    Re: Math/CS exams at USyd

    Hi there. I'm majoring in maths, and minoring in IT/comp sci, so I can tell you a bit about both.

    If flexibility over your units is important to you, then USYD is arguably one of the best choices in that regard. For example, there's no such thing as an applied or pure maths major here - only a maths major (and a financial maths major, but let's ignore that for now); you simply pick 4 senior maths units, from applied or pure, to graduate as a maths major, which is great because it's important for a maths graduate to have a bit of both. Similarly, comp sci and IT has quite a bit of flexibility as well over what you want to study - whether you gear more towards applied, or theory.

    Quote Originally Posted by flollop View Post
    Am I missing something, or are the USyd handbooks an absolute trainwreck? Even with the new CUSP system, it's very difficult to find detailed information about subjects. Also, am I right in thinking that you can't view any timetables until after you have enrolled?
    You can view university-wide timetables once you've enrolled into the uni (called timetable unit), regardless of whether you've enrolled into your courses. So you can base your courses on optimising your timetable, if that's something that's important to you. If you have friends who go to USYD, you can ask them to access the university-wide timetable unit for you, if you like. (Although being this early into the year, they're subject to change.)

    Quote Originally Posted by flollop View Post
    My main issue is with the assessments for some units in the science and IT faculties. A lot seem to have exams weighted as high as 70%. I have ADHD and get pretty bad exam anxiety, so this is way too much pressure for me.

    > What is the grading like on exams. If you do really well in the coursework but poorly on the exam (as a result of time management - not just straight up getting everything wrong) do you generally find that your overall mark turns out pretty good?
    Yeah, that's one thing that can be pretty off-putting. USYD is pretty hardcore with 60-80% final exam weights for maths/comp sci. Even more hardcore, is the fact that the maths faculty have phased out scaling, meaning what you get across the semester and on the final exam is pretty much final.

    So really, you need to do well to prepare for your final exams and perform well in them, if you want excellent grades.

    That being said, it's probably not as bad as you thing. Lecturers have been known to manipulate cohort marks in other ways; for example, if there is a particularly difficult problem in an exam, they'll simply dilute the marks for that problem so it weighs you down less. I've had an instance in first year where I couldn't answer half of the problems in the final for MATH1902 Linear Algebra (Advanced), which has a 60-70% weight, and somehow got 80 for that course.

    Moreover, since scaling has been phased out of maths courses, maths finals have become easier, as lecturers do take into consideration the absence of scaling.

    Ultimately, I think if you put in the work for it and consistently work throughout the semester, you should do just fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by flollop View Post
    > Do any math/CS/IT/science units allow you to bring notes or "cheat sheets" into exams? Or is it the traditional (horribly outdated) closed-book 3-hour exam?
    Majority of maths and computer science exams are 2 hours long. First year maths exams are 1.5 hours long, and maybe a couple of courses have 3 hour long exams.

    Computer science final exams usually allow you to bring in a double sided, handwritten or typed cheat sheet.

    Majority of maths exams are completely closed book, with some even prohibiting calculators (not that they're any helpful lol). Some of the applied units will give you a formula sheet (though this isn't common). So maths exams are arguably the toughest, and the only way to really study for them is to do plenty of past papers (which are uploaded by lecturers towards the end of the course) and re-do tutorial problems.


    Not sure whether this helps, but personally, I've never found the 60-70% final to be a problem. Moreover, I usually find that cheatsheets aren't very helpful, provided you did enough past papers and tutorial problems. The work you put in throughout the semester and before the exams is really all that matters.

    Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) III, USYD

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    Re: Math/CS exams at USyd

    Thank you that was a really thorough and helpful answer.

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