Thursday, January 29, 2009

Geography Exam Tomorrow!

Hello Geography family; tomorrow morning is your exam. I will have breakfast ready for you in room 611 at 8:00 am. Sign in for the exam begins at 8:45 am in room 601. I hope you have been studying for your exam as it forms a substantial portion of your grade.

Let's take a minute and discuss your choice of exam. You have the option to choose whether to write the Ministry of Education provincial exam or mine (Remember they are pretty much the same thing in terms of difficulty, length, and content). The Ministry of Education provincial exam is worth 40% of your final grade while my exam is worth 25% of your final grade. You have to write one of them so let's take a look at the ramifications of each. First of all check out the BC School Counsellors Association web site which gives a list of post-secondary institutions and whether they require you to write the provincial exam.

Imagine you are a student who hopes to go on to some form of post-secondary educational institution in British Columbia (college, institute, university-college, or university). You are taking Geography 12 and have achieved a grade of 74% in Mr. Young's class. You have a choice to make for tomorrow: write the provincial or Mr. Young's exam. If you write the provincial exam you will have earned 44.4 marks for your school grade (74% = 44.4/60) and if you write Mr. Young's exam you will have earned 55.5 marks for your school grade (74% = 55.5/75).

Let's stop here for a minute before we calculate more. You must think strategically at this point. Post-secondary institutions look at BOTH your school grade and your combined school and exam grade and will choose the higher of the two for entry to their institution. So if I wanted to go to Vancouver Island University, North Island College, or any other post-secondary institution they will take the better of either my school mark or my final mark (school and exam mark combined) as a basis for entry. Since I've already got a B (74%) in Mr. Young's Geography class that is the lowest mark that the university or college will look at for entry purposes.

OK so imagine I am unprepared for the provincial exam (a highly unlikely scenario for you I know but play along with me for a minute) and I get an exam mark of 61%. This means I combine my 44.4 marks with 24.4 marks (61% = 24.4/40) to get a total of 68.8 rounded up means a final grade in Geography 12 of 69% (C+). This final grade is lower than my school mark of 74% (B) and will be my official grade BUT will not be the grade that post-secondary schools look at for entry (they'll use the school mark because it's higher).

In the alternate scenario where I take Mr. Young's exam and I get the same grade (61%) I will have earned a final grade of 71% (Exam 61% = 15.25/25 + School 74% = 55.5/75) which is a C+. Vancouver Island University, North Island College, or any other post-secondary institution will take my school mark for entry in this situation because I did not write the provincial exam. My mark for entry in this scenario is three percent lower than by writing the provincial. Think strategically taking Mr. Young's exam I end up with a higher final grade but end up with a lower grade for post-secondary entrance.

So in the end you need to ask yourself, "What do I need?" rather than "What do I want?" If you need marks for entry into a post-secondary institution then taking the provincial exam does not hurt you at all. If you don't need marks for entry into a post-secondary institution then taking the provincial exam could hurt your grade. Let me make this a little more complex for you need or want a scholarship? Here's how provincial (not private) scholarships work. You must write the provincial exam to be eligible for a Grade 12 Graduation Program Examinations Scholarship ($1000). You will receive a $1000 scholarship from the Government of British Columbia if:
  1. you meet the basic graduation eligibility requirements
  2. you achieve a "B" in English 12 (or English 12 First Peoples)
  3. you achieve 86% or higher on three of your best provincial exam results (one of which may be your English exam)
If I write the English 12, Geography 12, History 12, and Biology 12 provincial exams and do well (more than 86%) on three of them, then I qualify for a $1000 scholarship. I can't qualify if I don't write the provincial.

Like I said earlier, you need to ask yourself "What do I need?" If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me, a counsellor or an administrator at the school. Above all study, eat well tonight and go to bed early. Wake up tomorrow morning rested and ready to go, I'll be here with breakfast for you. Don't forget regardless of your exam choice, Geography rules!

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