Frequently Asked Questions

Many of the same questions are asked by students every semester. This is a list of such questions along with their answers.

My sister's brother-in-law's cat was run over by an SUV and I missed the exam we had last week because I had to bring it to the emergency room. When can I take a makeup exam?

I'm sorry about your sister's brother-in-law's cat, but there are no makeup examinations. Remember, all exams in this class are essentially optional. Please re-read the information about examinations in the class policies on the web site to remind yourself how missed exams are handled.

My sister's brother-in-law's cat was run over by an SUV and I couldn't study for the exam today. Can I have a makeup?

See above.

My family is going on a Caribbean vacation for two weeks, including the day on which the next exam is scheduled. When can I take a makeup?

See above.

I don't think I did very well on yesterday's exam. Can you please not count it?

Once an exam is handed in, it's too late to change your mind.

My sister's brother-in-law's cat was run over by an SUV and I couldn't finish the problem set on time. Can I hand it in tomorrow?

There's no penalty for handing an assignment in early, but no assignments are accepted after the deadline. After all, that's what's meant by a deadline. Also, the solutions have already been posted to the web.

My sister's brother-in-law's cat was run over by an SUV and I couldn't study for the exam today. Can I have a makeup?

I missed Friday's quiz. When can I make it up?

There are no makeups for quizzes. When calculating averages, there is some leeway relating to quizzes, so you can still average 100 percent even if you miss a quiz or two; effectively, students who take all the quizzes earn extra credit.

When can I see you in your office?

My office hours are posted on my web site. If none of my regular hours work for you, we can arrange an appointment outside those hours. Check with me after class or send me an email.

My answer was correct but I lost points. Why?

A complete solution to a question includes not just a conclusion, but a method. Someone reading your solution ought to be able to follow the reasoning you used to arrive at your conclusion and verify that your reasoning was correct.

I know my answer was wrong but I used the right method. Will I get partial credit?

That's one of the great benefits of showing how you arrive at your conclusion. If I can understand how you arrived at your conclusion and your method was correct but just made some minor computational error, you will get almost full credit.

How much work do we have to show?

You have to show whatever work was necessary for you to answer the question. See above.

In high school, my teacher taught us to solve ... this way but you showed us that way. How do you want us to solve that sort of problem?

Correctly. With rare exceptions, I will generally not specify a method for you to use. As long as your work is correct, you will receive due credit.

What do I have to do to get my grade changed from a C- (or D+, D, D- or F) to a C? I need to transfer the credit to my regular college and they won't transfer credits if my grade is below a C?

In an ideal world, there would be no need for grades. In our imperfect world, you must live with the reality that while there was a lot you might have done before the semester ended, once grades are submitted they can only be changed if a computational error was made. Grades, of course, must be based on performance rather than on the perceived needs of the student.

I really need an A in this class. What do I need to do in order to get an A?

Earn it.

Why should I come to your office?

Comfortable chairs, sterling conversation, pistachio nuts and free golf balls.

Do you want to play tennis Friday afternoon?


How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn't see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind.