EE351 Scores

revised Dec. 17, 2016

This is a list of scores in descending numerical order. Absolutely no names, codes, or any identifiers will ever be used that could link a score to a particular student.

Do not worry if you do not get the exact numbers I have below as I used quite a bit of rounding in computing some answers. You were not graded to the exact digits. Also, if you see "ok" written on your test it means that you worked the problem basically right even though your answers do not agree with mine - you made a small error at the start of the problem that skewed the results. Even though I am very "mean-spirited" and could have marked it all wrong, I was so glad to see that some people could actually work a problem right per the method I teach that the nicer side of me said to give you full credit or at most take off only a very small amount.

Reminder -- you are not supposed to remove any sheets from the staple -- there are clear instructions on the test to that effect.

DO NOT ROUND ANALYTICAL RESULTS TO STANDARD RESISTOR VALUES!!!!!!! If the computed answer is 1.873 K then write that. Do not write 2K. Standard values only apply to DESIGN computations.
I have observed considerable confusion in calculating with u, m, k, and M. A number of students can't seem to operate a calculator -- have right numbers but totally wrong results. I have said it before and I will say it again -- If you are using the graphic algebraic mode of your calculator then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG -- and very slowly too which hurts you on a test. Learn how to use a calculator in standard mode. RPN on an HP35S is by far the most efficient and least error prone method. Don't be a victim of technology. Students years ago only had plain calculators and operated their calculators more accurately and faster on tests.

Test 1, 2016 scores:

100, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 90


79, 75, 72, 72, 71

68, 67, 66, 65, 64, 63, 62, 60

59, 59, 58, 56, 52, 50, 45, 45, 43, 40, 40, 37, 37, 36, 34, 29, 29, 27

There were quite a number of very good test papers.  I am pleased.  Basically, if you scored above the mid 70s then you are doing fine.  If you scored less than the mid 50s then you are in danger of failing the course.  If you are disappointed in your score then try to understand why -- most low grade issues are caused by inadequate study and inability to use the calculator efficiently or even accurately.  Another major factor is not understanding the fundamentals you should have learned in the past.  This is an applied course and you must utilize a lot of material (Ohm's law, circuit laws, etc.) you should have learned in previous courses.  Weakness in those will lead to very low test scores -- but you should have anticipated that from the homework and studied more.

Engineers calculate.  If you can't calculate then you can't be an engineer.  It is clear that some students do not know how to use their calculator.  I think students waste a lot of time entering calculations in graphic algebraic mode (the most inefficient way to calculate) and then make entry errors.   The best calculator to use is an HP35S in RPN (not algebraic) mode.  That is by far the most efficient way to calculate -- but you have to develop a proficiency -- it is not hard and a little investment in time is well worth it.  I saw a number of errors caused by misusing the calculator.  If your calculator screen shows the problem you are solving in graphic form then there is a high probability that you will get the wrong answer -- believe it or not -- I have seen that too many times over the years -- that graphic screen is a sales gimmick to bamboozle you into thinking that the calculator is "easy" to use .  It is not that the calculator is incorrect -- it is that you do not notice an error you made in entering so some mathematical group is wrong.  I have said many times that the best calculators are the old-fashion type without graphics.  Graphic entry is much slower and wastes your valuable test time.  An HP35S in RPN mode is one of the few modern calculators that works the old-fashion way.  Students adept at that can perform calculations faster and with fewer errors and score higher on tests.

Some general comments that apply to all classes:

Many students in the past have had similar issues with scoring low on tests.  Keep in mind that the way grading works is that if your score on the final is higher than the average of the two tests then the final counts for a major portion of your grade and the two tests count little.  So a bad grade on the first test does not limit what you can do.  Many students in the past have recovered from such -- check the grades from last year on the website.

My theory as to what goes wrong is that many students are very ill prepared to think algebraically and are also weak in application of Ohm's and Watt's fundamental laws.  A second issue is that I think students are overly focused on solving homework problems without having first studied the notes I provide and repeated the derivations.  Blind application of the equations on the equation sheet will not work -- you have to know what you are doing.

I am afraid that a major problem with many students is that they grew up in an era of "modern" teaching methods -- which are the absolute worst ever devised -- i.e. you are a victim of bureaucracy.  That is a handicap for everyone.  Interestingly, older students who were not exposed to "modern" methods generally perform much better in my class.  I teach the old-fashion way because that is a proven success.  I am very much in disagreement with how math is taught and if it were up to me I would gather up the "modern" methods in a pile and burn them​ and force instructors to return to the old ways.

My biggest suggestion would be to carefully study the notes -- re-read and seek full understanding.  The material is not complicated.  Then work problems and don't be afraid to apply algebra.

What is the excuse of those that scored in the 90s?  They showed that it can be done -- that the test is not crafted in any way for the class to score low.

Answers to Test 1 This is a pdf of the Excel spreadsheet I used to compute the answers. Many partial results are also shown.
Test 2, 2016 scores:

100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 99, 98, 98, 97, 97, 96, 96, 96, 96, 92, 92, 92, 91, 90

89, 88, 88, 86, 86, 86, 84, 84, 84, 82, 82, 82, 82, 80

78, 76, 72, 70


58, 52, 42, 12

Answers to Test 2 This is a pdf of the Excel spreadsheet I used to compute the answers. Many partial results are also shown.

Answers: Note -- the DSS students had a different test

Comments: There were many calculation errors:

1.2K + 50 is not equal to 51.2 ohms for example.

4m * 750 is not equal to 3000.

sqrt(4 mA * 6 mA) is not equal to 4.9 amperes.

Many errors were likely the result of very sloppy work.

Generally, the papers with organized neat work were also the highest scoring.

There is too much blind use symbology such as RE1, etc. -- you must know the circuit context.

If the final has the resistors labeled R10, R11, R12, etc. will you be able to solve the problem?

Final Exam 2016 scores:

The scores on the final exam and distribution of grades in the class will be posted approximately about the time or a little after students can directly obtain their grade from the registrar's office -- the only official source. This is because from past experience, students worry too much about their grade and are in too much suspense until they receive their official grade - as if there is anything that worry could do about it. Therefore, I find that it is better for students not to know the scores and grade distribution until after they have received their official grade. Please do not email or call me for your grade - I can not give it out. You will find out soon enough through the normal channel. You should have a good idea anyway.

Here are the scores on the final exam for Fall 2016. 

99, 98, 97, 96, 96, 94, 93, 93, 93, 91, 91, 90, 90, 90

89, 86, 86, 86, 84, 82, 80

79, 79, 76, 76

69, 69, 68, 68, 68, 68, 68, 67, 65, 64, 61

59, 58, 55, 35

Overall Grades for Fall 2016:




   5 DDDDD

   1 F

If your score on the final was higher than your test average then your final was used for all tests -- this helped many students as most students scored higher on the final than their test average. 

General notes for all classes

There is a high correlation between doing neat and organized work and a high test grade.

There is also a high correlation between doing sloppy and disorganized work and a low test grade.

Many errors were caused by sloppy work.

Many calculator errors.  If you would invest in a real calculator rather than a cheap toy and learn to use it your scores could have been a letter grade higher in many cases.

Tests are getting harder and harder to grade -- all I see is a big mess.  Some papers are excellent though.

Failure to understand numbers:  1.2K + 50 is not equal to 51.2.  4m*750 is not equal to 3000.

Failure to know what nano and pico are.  Given 3.2 uF you enter 3.2 farads on your calculator.

Never round intermediate calculations to standard values or round input resistance to standard values -- that is stupid.

Confusion between design and analysis.  Design equations will not work for analysis and analysis equations will not work for design.

This class had considerable confusion with common-emitter with common-collector.

There seems to be a bad concept of trying to learn a blind/dumb procedure to obtain an answer without any understanding of the process. This approach generally fails on my tests because I intentionally do things slightly different to make you think. If you understand what you are doing then that causes no issue. If you are following a blind/dumb procedure then you become stuck. I am concerned that the blind/dumb procedure concept comes from modern educational methods which are proven failures -- contrary to the claims of those who make a lot of money hocking these methods. Old methods requiring thought process have stood the test of time. Modern educational methods, contrary to what they purport, are not about learning -- they are about money -- create a new method, get a government mandate to require following it, pay exorbitant fees to the method providers for materials and training -- then later wonder why students are performing worse. Solution, repeat the "mistake" with yet another new method -- ad nausium -- maximize profits to materials and training providers while achieving pitiful results for students -- that is what government educational bureaucracy is all about. It works well -- we have maximum expense and maximum mediocrity.

[This note is particularly from a previous year but its concept always seems to apply] One strange thing -- most students scored well on Lab 6 (Frequency response) yet a number of students had not a clue on the final exam -- I realize that in some cases that time was the factor -- but not all. I have seen this phenomenon on a variety of course topics and particularly in EE431. It is a known issue that copying old labs is rampant -- that is why the lab scores do not count for very much -- they are already falsely skewed to be too high -- except that some students do truly earn high lab grades -- they do excellent work on the labs and also on the exams (amazing how that works) -- those students will be the movers and shakers of tomorrow.

In general the class went well.  There were several students who I know really put forth effort to learn and I am always glad to see that -- that is what school is about -- that is why I teach.  Unfortunately, effort does not always translate into an 'A' -- but that is OK.  I was mostly a 'B' student and that has never held me back in my work.  I was one of those who perfected knowledge and ability to work related problems after the course.  In the grand scheme of things your GPA, unless it is particularly bad, has little effect on your career.  A high GPA might get you into some doors of life earlier but those doors are never closed. 

 An accumulation of comments to classes in general over the years, not necessarily to this class

Comments: One observation I have is that students seem to be very weak in Algebra -- this has gotten significantly worse in recent years. Also, it appears that students prefer to blindingly plug numbers into some magic equation without knowing or any understanding -- this may be related to the first observation. In a number of cases for the EE351 final the equation you needed was on the provided sheet but not necessarily directly solved for a particular variable -- something that would have been a trivial Algebra problem that you should have practiced in studying. Engineering is about doing calculations -- and that is another point -- students seem to be very inefficient doing calculations with modern calculators -- those would slow me down too. I highly recommend an HP-35S calculator and becoming proficient in RPN -- that radically reduces the time required to do calculations. That is how I and many others got through school and that is what I use today. For EE431 I am going to emphasis doing the Algebra and tests may consist more of symbolic solutions. Numerous times during the course I told you that it was very important for you do all of the derivations I demonstrated on your own. It is obvious that few did but perhaps a serious weakness in Algebra was more of a factor than I have ever realized. I read reports on how pathetically weak American students are in comparison to numerous other countries -- looks like I am seeing it. I am trying to ponder what I can do about it -- I am afraid not much -- the damage was done in the past. My EE351 students of the past could readily work Algebra. I expect that because without Algebra it is impossible to do engineering. I use Algebra all the time in my work. On a positive note there were students who did well with the Algebra and I noticed a few aspiring Algebra workers -- so there is hope.

Some students might have a misconception about final grades. All I can do is report the grade you earned. I am not allowed to give, assign, influence, etc. your grade in any way other than scaling adjustments that apply equally to all. There are always cases where I know that a student is making a good effort and perhaps "deserves" an 'A' but their average is a 'B'. I have to report the 'B' no matter how favorably impressed I am with the student. There are other cases where a student barely passes with a 'D' and I know that they really do not deserve to pass. In those cases I have to report the 'D' my opinion notwithstanding.

No matter how grades are calculated there will always be those who are in the upper portion of one letter grade and with one more scaling point added to everyone then they would have a higher letter grade. But then that creates a new problem -- now there is someone new just below the next grade threshold -- another scaling point and they would have a higher letter grade. But it does not end here -- depending on the distribution of scores then his process could repeat and repeat until grades become meaningless. The only sane way to deal with this is to rigidly follow the standard thresholds after scaling points are added. Everyone already has the benefit of up to one point as any fractions of a point are rounded up -- so a 79.01 raw score would automatically round up to a B, etc. I know everyone wants an 'A' or at least something higher than a 'D' -- although a 'D' is certainly preferable to an 'F'. I understand if you did not make the letter grade you were seeking but that is just life -- many times I did not make the grade I wanted either -- but that has never held me back in life -- I am a definite success story in spite of being a 'B' student (with some 'A's, 'C's, and even a few 'D's). The point here is -- don't feel bad -- you are another course closer to graduation.

There are a number of reasons I do long tests that some may not complete. Students worry about that unnecessarily -- keep in mind that I always have the option to scale final grades up as appropriate. The final grades below are typical for EE351 classes and there is no way you can look at those grades and conclude that the system was rigged against you. It all comes out in the end. That is how life works. One key to life is perseverance. Focus on the big picture and do not allow little details to disturb you.

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