National test discussion

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National test discussion

Postby Jaol » May 17th, 2015, 8:00 pm

This is a thread for the discussion of the national tests their length, level of difficulty, and general discussion.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby watermydoing14 » May 17th, 2015, 8:19 pm

For events that have "nationals only" topics, how much of the test was focused on those topics?
2013~Designer Genes~Disease Detectives~Forensics~Remote Sensing
2014~Anatomy~Experimental Design~Mission Possible
2015~Anatomy~Cell Biology~Experimental Design~Mission Possible
2016~Air Trajectory~Anatomy~Cell Biology~Experimental Design~Protein Modeling~Robot Arm~Wright Stuff
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Re: National test discussion

Postby awesome90220 » May 18th, 2015, 8:50 am

watermydoing14 wrote:For events that have "nationals only" topics, how much of the test was focused on those topics?

Hmm. Actually, for Crave th Wave, there was actually absolutely nothing on the test about tsunamis or boundary effects on waves
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Re: National test discussion

Postby sciolyboy123 » May 18th, 2015, 11:31 am

For Bio-Process Lab, the test was based on reading the test and comprehending the text. All the questions were located in the context and the questions were pretty easy if you knew anything about biology. Although the questions were easy, there was 10-12 questions per station and each "question" had 2-3 parts to it, so the test was basically long but easy. You had 4 minutes each station, and about 20 questions on the station. There was 10 stations, but essentially 100 questions. It was one of those tests, where if you answered all the questions, you got top 10. I didn't answer 9 of the 100 because of the time, but I got 14th.

For Disease Detectives, the test was only 24 pages long (I think, no entirely sure). Same as noted before, if you finished the test correctly, you got top 20ish. The test was two parts, but unlike last year they didn't tell you the two topics beforehand. Ebola and Lead. I did Ebola and partner did Lead, we finished the test, and knew everything on it. Somehow we got 10th :D

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Re: National test discussion

Postby sciolycoach » May 18th, 2015, 12:28 pm

Hello,

On Crave the Wave, I'll add some general statistics about the event forum thread. On your statement above, note that there was actually an entire station on boundary effects on waves, it was station 10 and involved making a graph. Many teams struggled with this activity.

Also, for the person who claimed earlier that there was little to no math, I actually thought that there was plenty of mathematics involved. I am against very high level mathematics, especially at the Div B level in Science Olympiad, as that can unnecessarily put some teams at a disadvantage when they may actually have a very strong understanding of the concepts. There were questions and activities using the wave equation, energy of photons, and graphing/equations of best fit for ocean waves and boundary effects. I hope that everyone found it a challenging but fair competitive opportunity. Thank you to all of you who participated in this event all year!

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Re: National test discussion

Postby Adi1008 » May 18th, 2015, 12:42 pm

Picture This (2): The words list was extremely easy, but next year I'd expect it to get significantly more difficult. We got 24/25 words in about 2:40(?) minutes. We spent over 30 seconds on one super easy word (amphibian) before passing it T_T, which likely was what kept us from winning it. The proctors were understanding (had some problems with scheduling because walk in building events =_=) and knew what they were doing. I liked the decision to have the competitors draw with felt tips markers as opposed to normal pens - too often do the pens seem to not work while illustrating a word. I'd give this an A. Congratulations to AMC for winning first

Solar System (3): The test was slightly longer than last year, and considerably more difficult, but was not extremely hard overall. Length was what made this test difficult as opposed to the actual content of the questions. Although this is personal preference, I would have liked to see a couple free response/paragraph questions as opposed to a lot of normal identification ones that really require the students to understand the topic, but what ended up hurting my partner and I the most was that the answer sheet was only one page, so it would be tough to have both people working on it at the same time. This led to some problems towards the end, as we were transferring questions onto the answer sheet, but this can be attributed to us not taking enough tests with the same format as Dusty's and not having a better plan for things like this (although I'm not really sure if there is a better plan lol), even though it was the same as last year, where we should have learned our lesson. Last year, we got third, and this year, our goal was to get first. Although this did not happen, I'm not even that mad - both of us tried pretty hard and we still only got third; Piedmont and AMC just worked even harder than us and they deserved it. Congratulations to both of those teams.

Crave the Wave (5): Test was slightly on the easier side, but the time constraint was real, especially for the earthquake stations. I personally was not a fan of the station that was done together at the beginning, as my partner and I were sitting across the room from the proctor and we had a lot of trouble hearing what he said and the recordings for the doppler effect questions, which almost certainly cost us precious points. Aside from that, I though the test was really well. I personally am not a fan of station tests, as I feel as if they do not give students the time they need to construct well thought out answers that demonstrate a true understanding of the topic at hand, but I do see the appeal. The proctor was pretty nice and seemed to know what he was doing. The prism question confused me, as I didn't see any laser or anything, so I just tried to estimate what the angles would be by looking at the text on the answer sheet through the prism lol. Congratulations to Solon for winning. B+

Wheeled (13): RIP in pieces wheeled. I didn't think we did that bad but I guess we did. Although not a testing event just would like to say that the proctors all knew what they were doing and did a good job of running the event.
Last edited by Adi1008 on May 19th, 2015, 4:35 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby awesome90220 » May 18th, 2015, 12:44 pm

awesome90220 wrote:
watermydoing14 wrote:For events that have "nationals only" topics, how much of the test was focused on those topics?

Hmm. Actually, for Crave th Wave, there was actually absolutely nothing on the test about tsunamis or boundary effects on waves


And now to add on to the rest of my events:

Crave the Wave- It was a good test, almost a perfect example of what a nationals test should be like. It wasn't too long, but the difficulty of the questions made the test seem challenging, and overall I thought it was almost a perfect nationals test.

Experimental Design- The experiment was, for us at least, a bit too easy, but that may be because we did an easy experiment. It's really hard to say for exp design, because, as a test, you can't really screw it up.

Road Scholar- This was a typical Road Scholar test. It's what you should expect every year, really, for those doing Road Scholar. The test had the easy and hard questions, and for a test where many questions involve searching a map, it was long enough.

Picture This- The words weren't exceedingly hard, but my team and I were so unprepared that I really can't comment on the picture this competition

Meteorology- This one was a bit(actually, extremely) disappointing. The test was barely a third of the length of the test we were given last year, and was far too easy to be considered a nationals test. In fact, many of the questions we got on the test were the exact same, word for word, as those on the state test. If I could describe the nationals test in comparison to our AL state test, it was essentially the same, but just with less questions. And this is Alabama. Makes you wonder how the questions for some of these tests are found...

Overall though, I thought my events were run pretty well. It really stings that I couldn't get a medal in my final B division competition, but I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this year's event.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby SOnerd » May 18th, 2015, 2:21 pm

I competed in the following events on Saturday:
Disease Detectives (43rd)- I thought the test was good and hard, but I haven't done Disease long enough to make an extremely educated statement about it. It seemed to follow the topic and have logical questions. (I was the one who pointed out the typo on the multiple choice question that had A and C as the same thing)

Experimental (23rd)- Much easier than last year, but they didn't let us use the rubric this time (which, in my opinion, was a good thing).

Entomology (3rd)- The test was very easy, much too easy to be a National level test. There were no problems with the way the test was run or written, and it would have worked fine as a Regional or State test. I thought 5 minutes was way too long for a station with ~6 questions, especially when said questions were not particularly difficult. If a team did not know what an ootheca was or how to tell the difference between a male/female grasshopper and praying mantis, they could have placed significantly lower than other teams of very similar ability level. The specimens we got to see were nice (none were live though :cry: ) and in tact (not broken), which was a plus. Sadly, the last Ento test I will ever take :cry: :cry:

Dynamic Planet (27th)- I kind of zoned out for the whole time while taking this test, but it didn't seem to me like there were any big problems with it. Of course, since I didn't prepare for it as much as my other events, I am in no position to make a judgement about it. I was expecting to see more about topographic features, but it was overall an okay test.

Fossils (12th)- Great test, very well-run and well-written. I enjoyed taking it and felt adequately prepared for it. It was probably the test that I was most pleased with throughout the day.

EDIT- yep, it was 43rd
Last edited by SOnerd on May 18th, 2015, 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby RontgensWallaby » May 18th, 2015, 3:18 pm

Here are the events I competed in Saturday:
Entomology (10th): See above.
Simple Machines (18th): Like Ento, it was far too easy for a Nationals test. An 8th grade education in Simple Machines could have gotten you a 100 on the test. Because of this the entire competition was based upon the device testing part. Probably all of the top 30 teams and some others aced the test, and thus the top teams were those who spent the most time with their beam.
Crave (9th): Now, this test was good. Although a couple of key topics were left out (breaking ocean waves, tsunamis, standing waves, interference, diffraction, etc.), I thought it was a good test for separating the men from the boys. The only problem outside of the test that I encountered during the period was that the FSA kids in front of us took the optical instruments along with them a couple of times, but that was fine. Honestly, I could have done much better and without the couple of hindering mistakes I made, I could have possibly made top 3... If the coordinator for the event is reading this like he did for one of my earlier comments, I'd like to give a shout out to you for making Crave one of the standouts at the tournament.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby JoJoKeKe » May 18th, 2015, 3:47 pm

First of all, our team was from the state of Idaho so we don't really do that well... Plus, I got 2 of my events 1 month before the national competition.

Disease Detectives: (48th) SONerd - (Check what you got again, it says we got 48th...)
I started in January for this event. My partner and I were both working on the same questions until we had 5 minutes left, so that wasn't a very good idea. We knew how to solve almost every problem, but ultimately had to skip almost 3 full pages. Quite disappointing.

Green Generation: (41st) I started this event 1 month ago. However, the test seemed fairly easy if you knew the topic well. Since I started VERY late we didn't do so well, but overall it was fun. I'm not thinking of doing it next year, though.

Simple Machines: (So depressing I'm not going to even say...) The whole entire test went well... but only the test. We scored a 76 seconds for using the machine.... but I wrote both calculations on the wrong line. Such a big mess-up that I feel so embarrassed!

Fossils: (37th) I started this event in January. It was the event that I think I was most dedicated to, so I was really disappointed with this placement. I knew almost every question on the test, but to me the time was very restricting. (2 minutes) I've heard that a lot of people thought it was a perfect length, but for me it was quite difficult. Next year I'm definitely going to be taking more practice tests. The dinosaur station, at which you had to identify around 10 dinosaurs seemed very difficult for me and my partner.
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Since this was my first year at nationals I'm not too disappointed, but I really want to do better next year. I've self-trained in all my events, and where we really lack is the coaching.
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I'm definitely going to start in August of this year and rely on this site for my studying resources.
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Picture This: 1 / 17
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Re: National test discussion

Postby Unome » May 18th, 2015, 4:07 pm

Fossils: This was a very good test; there were 19 stations covering a broad range of material from the rules, good pacing so that to do well you had to be fast, and a variety of questions, from easyish to difficult, so that some stations we finished with some (~20 seconds) time left over, and others we didn't finish at all (as said above, dinosaurs :P )

5/5

Simple Machines: As said in the above post, this test was too easy. It required very superficial knowledge and basic calculations; we only had to reference the binder twice throughout the whole test, and finished early even after thoroughly checking it. Most likely we got 2-3 questions wrong, so as RontgensWallaby said above, the placings came down to how well teams did on the lever portion (which was the reason we managed to do well on easy tests at all; our lever method has been strong enough to score 45-48 out of 50 for even the most inexperienced competitors since last January). However, I would add that the rest of the event was run very well; the supervisors gave specific instructions for everything, so I never had to ask how to write the ratios, how many significant figures to use (or whether to use them at all), how to stop the lever portion timer, etc, which I would normally have to ask at most other competitions.

4/5

Bio-Process Lab: This was a superb test, directly to the rules (of course, since it was written by the Biology Rules Committee Chair), well paced, and very good difficulty (we only answered about 80% of the questions, yet we still got 4th). This shows exactly what a Bio-Process Lab test should be, since as most of you know, this event is rarely run well.

5/5

Meteorology: I'm not sure how a difficult Meteorology test should be written, so I'm not sure what to say, but my impression of the test was that it was too easy (although not necessarily for me, since that's one of my weaker events); it was the length of our state test, except with less multiple-choice, and no questions that I can remember were very difficult.

4/5

Anatomy: This test was a good example of how not to write (or more specifically, how to not write) a test. The test was the Division C Nebraska state test, printed out of order and recycled from an answer key. Most of the answers were blanked out, but badly, leaving much of the section for the Integumentary short answer questions too dark to write in; additionally, some answers were not blanked out, some questions were blanked out, and some questions referenced a diagram that did not exist, so the proctors said those would be thrown out. However, the end of the test was not printed, including half of a matching section, and for those questions which were missing the correct answers in the matching section, they just told us to "do our best," which to me appears to say that they graded that part.

2/5
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Re: National test discussion

Postby boomvroomshroom » May 18th, 2015, 4:45 pm

Astronomy: A
Good challenge, interesting questions, perfect length. Same people running it from last year, so the format was predictable enough.
There were a few weird questions, though. Overall the only way to improve would be to have more space for work on the calculations. I'm not sure how much partial credit is given. I know that each answer gets a nice big "range" because there are different constant values, but eventually there will be answers that go out of range (even if done correctly) because values from one part carry over to the other.

Fossils: A+
Very well run. Great samples, decent length, good challenge on the questions.

Forensics: A
Since it's the same people running it, the format was also predictable. As always, time was a problem, but at least we got plenty of easy trivia cake points to make up for it.
The only bad thing about the lab portion (and it happens every year) is the annoying containers that they use to store the powders/fibers/etc. Those things are extremely difficult to open. I actually took more time trying to get one of the hairs out of the container than actually identifying it under the microscope.

Geologic Mapping: A
The test was great. I personally found it pretty straightforward. Questions were a decent difficulty; overall test was a decent length. They also had some really good quality maps for us.
That being said, the awesome maps were way too big for our tables. I don't think it was the writers' fault since they probably don't get to choose what room the event is in. My advice for next year is to use something that fits on a standard 8.5"x11" piece of paper, just to be safe. We might not be getting those great maps, but as long as you don't resize them too drastically they'll still be readable.

Bungee: F
Same guy from last year. Somehow he managed to follow the rules even less. The rules explicitly state a minimum drop height of 5m; one of the drops was below that. They also allow a calculator - he did not. Instead, he forced teams to use a chart - one which they had to impound. And he wouldn't let anyone verify the drop heights for themselves, nor did he allow one of the partners to help spot - even though you're supposed to have multiple spotters...which they did not have, either.

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Re: National test discussion

Postby syo_astro » May 18th, 2015, 5:18 pm

boomvroomshroom wrote:Astronomy: A
Good challenge, interesting questions, perfect length. Same people running it from last year, so the format was predictable enough.
There were a few weird questions, though. Overall the only way to improve would be to have more space for work on the calculations. I'm not sure how much partial credit is given. I know that each answer gets a nice big "range" because there are different constant values, but eventually there will be answers that go out of range (even if done correctly) because values from one part carry over to the other.


Since this is the one event I can actually respond to...hopefully you didn't find my questions to be the weird questions, as I did not help write it in the past (and I think some people switch in and out, though the majority is written by the same two). They throw a flare in at least (unless you mean something else)! The partial credit is I believe done by weighting beforehand. Also, while I favor giving constants, sometimes it really is just down to measurement error that cannot be compensated for too much. I personally went through and checked every question, and I believe two or three others did too (outside Donna+Tad, the event sups). Obviously not trying to be defensive or argue, just showing that it is not so terrible, and thanks for the appropriate A ;).
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Re: National test discussion

Postby asdfqwerzzz2 » May 18th, 2015, 6:04 pm

syo_astro wrote:
boomvroomshroom wrote:Astronomy: A
Good challenge, interesting questions, perfect length. Same people running it from last year, so the format was predictable enough.
There were a few weird questions, though. Overall the only way to improve would be to have more space for work on the calculations. I'm not sure how much partial credit is given. I know that each answer gets a nice big "range" because there are different constant values, but eventually there will be answers that go out of range (even if done correctly) because values from one part carry over to the other.


Since this is the one event I can actually respond to...hopefully you didn't find my questions to be the weird questions, as I did not help write it in the past (and I think some people switch in and out, though the majority is written by the same two). They throw a flare in at least (unless you mean something else)! The partial credit is I believe done by weighting beforehand. Also, while I favor giving constants, sometimes it really is just down to measurement error that cannot be compensated for too much. I personally went through and checked every question, and I believe two or three others did too (outside Donna+Tad, the event sups). Obviously not trying to be defensive or argue, just showing that it is not so terrible, and thanks for the appropriate A ;).


Hey Astro! Thanks so much for contributing to such an awesome test! What questions did you write? I personally really enjoyed some of the questions that really were non conventional, like asking the radius of the planet with 2 Earth masses with the same gravitational acceleration as Earth. As evidenced from the survey that I submitted, I'd rate the astronomy test an A+ for sure!

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Re: National test discussion

Postby chalker » May 18th, 2015, 6:09 pm

RontgensWallaby wrote:.... Probably all of the top 30 teams and some others aced the test, and thus the top teams were those who spent the most time with their beam......


Looking at the raw scores I have, only 8 teams aced that test, and several teams in the top 10 did NOT ace it. The low score was 18 points, and the average 40. So yes, it might have been a little easy, but by no means a slam dunk.

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