National test discussion

syo_astro
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Re: National test discussion

Postby syo_astro » May 18th, 2015, 6:11 pm

Haha, few questions came from me (I am mostly a checker, and I am still working on my question style). The questions that were most directly mine were on the Herbig Ae/Be star thing on Part A, and the spectral energy distribution question on Part C :) (I say most directly because it got edited a ton by the sups mutually). I was trying to come up with that blackbody curve question on Part C and trying to come up with a question that would show various effects of transit light curves like on Part A, but Tad (I believe) pulled those together faster than I could :P (though, I did try to throw some ideas over about that). I actually had a bunch of other questions in mind...perhaps if they let me you will get a few tough things from me ;).

Also noting off what chalker said. Often at most scores may be close (eg. literally always there's a dang tie), but almost never do people get a 100 on the test. I attribute this mostly because the test really could be anything, and even if you finish, if you hand it in early, don't check the right thing, don't write the right thing, then those all lead to EXTREMELY easy point loss.
Last edited by syo_astro on May 18th, 2015, 6:19 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby asdfqwerzzz2 » May 18th, 2015, 6:12 pm

.... 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.
Hey Chalker, I'm unsure if you even have access to this or the ability to disclose this, but what was the point distribution among the top 6 astronomy teams?

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Re: National test discussion

Postby asdfqwerzzz2 » May 18th, 2015, 6:29 pm

Haha, few questions came from me (I am mostly a checker, and I am still working on my question style). The questions that were most directly mine were on the Herbig Ae/Be star thing on Part A, and the spectral energy distribution question on Part C :) (I say most directly because it got edited a ton by the sups mutually). I was trying to come up with that blackbody curve question on Part C and trying to come up with a question that would show various effects of transit light curves like on Part A, but Tad (I believe) pulled those together faster than I could :P (though, I did try to throw some ideas over about that). I actually had a bunch of other questions in mind...perhaps if they let me you will get a few tough things from me ;).

Also noting off what chalker said. Often at most scores may be close (eg. literally always there's a dang tie), but almost never do people get a 100 on the test. I attribute this mostly because the test really could be anything, and even if you finish, if you hand it in early, don't check the right thing, don't write the right thing, then those all lead to EXTREMELY easy point loss.
Sorry in advance for the double post, but I must thank you again for your awesome test writing! I thought the questions you wrote were quite solid, but I would've liked to see a less obvious answer to the SED problem. When one the questions was "which circumstellar disk is seen in the SED," followed up with "what circumstellar disk does the disk in part (b) evolve into," it can be quite obvious, as the order is always protoplanetary -> debris. Personally, I wouldn't have known known for sure the answer to that question if it weren't for the followup. In terms of the Herbig questions, I thought they were all great! Regarding your last statement about ties, do you happen to know the point values of the top teams? I'm curious to see how close we were to getting those top 3 medals!

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Re: National test discussion

Postby dragonslikepi » May 18th, 2015, 6:31 pm

Entomology: I believe that the test was a little too simple. There were far too many questions asking about metamorphosis and whether the insect was Apterygota or Pterygota . If you got the metamorphosis, you would have gotten the latter question. Additionally, there was only one question regarding the anatomy of the insect. (The one about which system the Malpighian tubules belonged to.) I studied so much about anatomy and sadly there was only one question about it on the test. There was also too much time on our hands. In fact, I correctly guessed what the next station's insects would be by just reading the question. In the end, I think the test came down to who could identify the insects better.

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Re: National test discussion

Postby syo_astro » May 18th, 2015, 6:33 pm

I won't reveal how exactly just in case, but in the original question I actually made it longer and tried to make a few parts a fair bit more difficult. Donna/Tad do a good job balancing it out. Sadly not many people can appreciate (or know about...?) the beauty of SEDs! Also, if that was your assumption you're a bit off (right about debris disk...but if you mean just "protoplanetary" in this case). The disk I referred to was actually a transitional disk, which is a bit more specific than just "protoplanetary disk" (as there is the truly primordial full disk, the pre-transitional disk, and the transitional disk). What made it really hard was that part b forced you to EXPLAIN why, which was basically the main, if I may say simple but important, aspect. I get you may find it "easy", but there's always a trick :P. Things can always get harder though from me, don't you worry...

I sadly don't know point values off the top of my head (didn't have time to get to NE, so I couldn't grade >.>), and I think I'll leave that up to Donna/Tad/Chalker to say.
Last edited by syo_astro on May 18th, 2015, 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby asdfqwerzzz2 » May 18th, 2015, 6:39 pm

I won't reveal how exactly just in case, but in the original question I actually made it longer and tried to make a few parts a fair bit more difficult. Donna/Tad do a good job balancing it out. Sadly not many people can appreciate (or know about...?) the beauty of SEDs! Also, if that was your assumption you're a bit off (right about debris disk...but if you mean just "protoplanetary" in this case). The disk I referred to was actually a transitional disk, which is a bit more specific than just "protoplanetary disk" (as there is the truly primordial full disk, the pre-transitional disk, and the transitional disk). Nice try :P. What made it really hard was that part b forced you to EXPLAIN why, which is an extremely simple but important aspect of the question/understanding surrounding what I wanted in that question.

I sadly don't know point values off the top of my head (didn't have time to get to NE, so I couldn't grade >.>), and I think I'll leave that up to Donna/Tad/Chalker to say.
Well dang! Thought I caught the loophole in your question, but I guess I was wrong! Maybe that's what separated me from top 3!

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Re: National test discussion

Postby jkang » May 18th, 2015, 6:47 pm

Chemistry Lab (24): Mixed feelings about this event. We had 8 stations that we rotated through, with ~15-20 questions per station. The length of the test definitely made it more difficult, and only using one calculator between me and my partner definitely caused some struggles. Thought the length alone definitely contributed to making the test more challenging. Also, in between each station the proctor gave us time to wipe our goggles, which was definitely a plus since mine were fogging up constantly. However, several questions from this year's test were taken from last year's, which was pretty disappointing. In addition, the proctors constantly had a ton of lab equipment and supplies out; however, my partner and I only ran into one station that required lab material which led to a lot of confusion between the two of us. Overall, I would give this event a B+.

Compound Machines (7): Again, the proctors here were really nice. When my partner and I couldn't get our device to balance correctly in equilibrium when we were setting up our device, they allowed us to set it up on the floor without intruding our 4 minute testing time. The test, however, we thought was not the most difficult. My partner and I opened our binder not even once during the entire test, and we managed to finish the test after checking it 2-3 times with around 10-20 minutes to spare in the block. However, I think possibly one screw-up that we had in our device portion could have been what costed us a medal at nats, which is unfortunate. Also, having to constantly go through significant figures and getting certain clarifications on certain questions about those were really annoying (although I can understand the reason some people would use sig figs, I just personally greatly dislike them). Overall, I would also give this event a B+.

Experimental Design (23): One of the most frustrating things about this event was that we were not allowed to use additional paper. With around 4 or so sections printed out on a page, and certain conflicts between my partner's sections and my sections being on the same page, we ran into a lot of frustration and timing issues. Especially considering certain sections such as procedure and analysis, this was probably one of the worst parts of this event. Furthermore, the way the proctor expressed her feelings about this event goes clearly against the rubric, which may have costed our team a couple of points. For example, the lab was geared towards something that we had to personally go against the proctor's "recommendation" in order to have a graph that can have a line of best fit, and when she came over to talk to us, she even stated how much she disliked regressions and how dumb she thought the rubric was. Furthermore, the fact that Seven Lakes, last year's winners in the event, got 34th in this event makes me think the grading was a little sketchy, despite the fact that some seniors may have graduated that participated in the event last year. Overall, probably a C+/B- or so is appropriate for this event.

It's About Time (1): Not much to say about the device section of this event, I feel that this is pretty standardized throughout all of SciO tournaments. For the test portion, my partner and I walked into the event expecting Chalker to be the national proctor for this event (as he was the past two times that it was run), so we were a little surprised when we found out that it was a different proctor and test-writer this year. The test was a little surprising in that there was a lot more of physics concepts than normally expected (a ton of questions that involved relativity, finally a use for my modern physics class), but besides that there were some obvious questions such as the definition of a second and unit conversion questions. Some of the questions were a little weirdly worded, but most of them my partner and I were able to reason through. Glad that there weren't any derpy questions on the test, such as quotes or pop culture references. My partner was sad that there was only one or so calendar-related questions, but that seems to be an unfortunate trend throughout a majority of IAT tests. Overall, I'd say this event deserves an A.

Technical Problem Solving (16): Ugh. I've been doing this event since sophomore year (currently a senior), and to be honest this might have been one of my least favorite topics to date. Especially the use of the case files from the Vernier website. These, particularly the footprint and blood splatter lab, were first used when we attended the CyFalls Invitational, but that was to be expected from a fall invitational. However, on the way to Wright State this year, when I heard that the nationals proctor was hosting the event at the invitational, I was looking forward to a great test that would challenge me. But hey, guess what: more case files, with again the blood splatter lab, the footprint lab, and the cooling dead body lab. But I got beyond that, thinking it was just another invitational for the local teams. Walking into nationals, I expected something more. But hey, guess what? Exactly the same case files as Wright State, virtually copy pasted from the Vernier website, and the materials used were hella sketchy. Can't describe how disappointed I was with this event this year. The best tests I've ever seen this year were those from the MIT and Troy Invitationals, and those were wayyy back in January/February. Flat out F for this event.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby sciolyboy123 » May 18th, 2015, 6:57 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
Wait, in Bio, you only anwered 80% of the questions? My partner and I answered 89% of the test and got 14th. We probably did something wrong, but the test was a good test.
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
Hey, I remember you from Disease. I expected it to be someone from SciOly.org, the test overall was pretty easy if you were experienced enough, but there were some questions that separated everyone from the top players.
2014-15 Season
(Hooch,Dodgen, Regionals, State, Nats)
Bio-Process Lab(3rd,5th,-,3rd,14th ;) )
Disease Detectives (1st,5th,1st,1st,10th 8-) )
Crave The Wave (2nd,-,-,-,-)
Experimental Design (-,1st, 4th,-,-)
Picture This (4th,6th, 1st, 4th,48th :oops: )
Simple Machines (1st,n/a, 1st, n/a)

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Re: National test discussion

Postby varunscs11 » May 18th, 2015, 7:04 pm

Green Generation (2): This test was so hard. The general ecology section was fiendishly hard. A lot of this section was reading charts and graphs. Section 2 was a little bit easier and was the standard pollution section. The final section was very easy. I enjoyed matching myco, phyto, and bacterial remediation to the situation an evaluating fishing methods by their sustainability. The test was in stations and I think the time limit made it even harder. The tie-breakers were too easy and the laws were cut and paste from the national event resources page. This test was definitely the better of the proctors tests because the 2013 Water Quality test was full of wrong answers and bad questions. I would give this an A/A-.

Fossils (6): Specimens were gorgeous and easy to identify. As you moved from Station 1 to 20, the stations got longer. Also the multiple choice made it kinda annoying. There were very little modes of preservation and time ranges which is good. But I wish there was more trivia and anatomy questions. I wouldn't say its the best test I've taken in difficulty but leagues better than the previous nationals tests. I would give it an A-.
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Re: National test discussion

Postby DShen » May 18th, 2015, 8:05 pm

Chemistry Lab (12th):

I did the event at nationals last year, and the proctor was the same. The style of the test (stations that mix data collection and paper problems) was also the same. That being said, I definitely do not agree with the proctor's idea of a "hard" test (after the event ended last year, he was extolling the difficulty of his test and how his undergrad students thought it was challenging; I would have to disagree with that assessment). To me, chemistry knowledge should not be assessed by ones ability to do 20 mundane problems and take experimental data quickly but rather by questions which actually require one to think critically. In the end, the test really came down to your ability to punch in numbers on a calculator really fast and read a colorimeter, which I think is a really terrible way to run an event. It was also all multiple choice (except for drawing in a couple of reaction profiles and a graph), which I also think makes it a terrible test.

Also, as somebody earlier pointed out, there was a repeat problem from last year regarding some yttrium reaction which would be impossible to balance in the time given unless you had already memorized it beforehand and copied it down to your binder.

1/10, would not compete again. Please get a better proctor who doesn't think that chemistry is just speed and rote memorization.


Forensics (19th):

Also did this event last year. Test is impossible to finish in time, but that's the point. I really love the lady who runs it and the effort she puts into it. Also, in my block somebody accidentally set fire to the base of one of the bunsen burners and the assistant needed to put it out with baking soda, which was funny. 9/10 would compete in again (but won't because I'm a senior).


Astronomy (9th):

Didn't do this event last year, but the test was okay. I thought it could have been longer (and even harder), especially part C which seemed almost too easy (many gravitational acceleration and planetary density calculations). I guess there's only a limited amount of math one can expect a high school student to do which relates to properties of exoplanets though. Also, what was the answer to the "puffed up" disk question?

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Re: National test discussion

Postby Maples6 » May 18th, 2015, 11:08 pm

Anatomy and Physiology (5th place):
I honestly was very surprised to get 5th place. And this is not saying that I was expecting to get higher. The majority of the test was fairly simple and straightforward, which most people would get if they bothered to read an anatomy/physiology textbook. The difficult stations included having to use a sphygmomanometer to measure your partner's blood pressure, which pretty much no one was able to do accurately. There were also questions that were word for word taken from previous USABO exams. Furthermore, the stations were divided up fairly unevenly. A lot of the stations were completed in one minute or so, but then we had to wait for four minutes to rotate. Other stations took the full 5 minutes.
I would rate this a 6/10. It had a good mixture of easy and difficult questions, but it was not an excellent test.

Cell Biology (1st place):
This test was well-written. I felt that it was too easy for a Nationals test, however. Before the test began, the proctor stated not to over-think questions and to choose the best answer. I would argue that there needs to be more questions where you have to use logic and over-think it to answer them correctly. The test was semi-frustrating, mainly because it was almost impossible not to over-think on a lot of the questions. There were also some questions that were vague and required educated guesswork as to what direction the test-writer was leaning.
I would rate this a 5/10. It was too simple and did not have enough difficult questions.

Protein Modeling (5th place):
I really enjoyed this test overall. The multiple-choice questions were easy as usual, but the short answers really required a grasp of how different treatments could be applied in certain scenarios. I have no complaints about the test, really. I did not do much for the build other than holding it at times, so I will not comment on that.
I give this test a 9/10.

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Re: National test discussion

Postby Crazy Puny Man » May 18th, 2015, 11:27 pm

A&P (6th): pretty good exam, better than last year's (where a few exam questions were repeated and the test looked like it was shoddily assembled...). It was run in a stations format, which I was not expecting at nationals, and there were some pretty tough questions, and the one station where we had to measure our partner's blood pressure & pulse threw me for a loop, but for the most part I thought it was on the easier side. 10 stations, 5 mins per station...at a lot of stations we had some time left over so maybe add more questions to ramp up the time pressure?

Astro (5th): also a great exam. I stuck to the math this time around, and many of the problems were very involved :) I missed a series of questions because I didn't know how to find a planet's temperature from a secondary eclipse oops :oops:

Chem Lab (8th): I do believe that a reasonable amount of time pressure is a vital part of a good chem lab exam; but, as DShen indicated, this one takes that to a whole new level :P I'm thinking topics like qualitative analysis or descriptive chem could have been addressed; they could probably come up with clever problems revolving around those topics instead of slamming us and giving us PTSD after the event :P (of course, qualitative & descriptive can't really happen next year with chem reactions/stoich rotating out, but you get the idea - steady state is also something they could've covered in the kinetics realm)

D Planet (6th): 5 stations, 11 mins per station. Like A&P, I also thought this was pretty easy. I remember we had no idea on a couple of questions at this one station, but after that it was mostly smooth sailing (except for those temperature/salinity maps, took me a while to gather my bearings when I first saw those), and we had time left over on most of the stations - so, again, more questions to ramp up time pressure + harder, more obscure questions?

TPS (7th): pretty weird, just as I was expecting. I believe something was screwed up with my TI calculator (I had station 1) because the absorbance I was getting for the unknown sample was less than that for clear water (and I had the colorimeter set at 470 nm, which is blue and should absorb red - right? - I even tried 430 and still got the same result; I was even able to get a new unknown and a different cup of distilled water, and nothing changed :? ), but I was trying to figure out what was wrong with it and I wound up screwing myself over on time because I couldn't finish all the calculations/questions on the back in time and wrote a random answer on the front. I saw what I needed to do, and I liked how involved those problems were, but I agree with jkang - the stuff given to us was pretty sketchy. My partner nailed station 2 which would explain why we ranked pretty highly.

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Re: National test discussion

Postby chalker » May 19th, 2015, 6:53 am

Hey Chalker, I'm unsure if you even have access to this or the ability to disclose this, but what was the point distribution among the top 6 astronomy teams?
69.5
68
63
62.5
61.5
60
However, I think possibly one screw-up that we had in our device portion could have been what costed us a medal at nats, which is unfortunate.
6th place got 96.48 total, 7th got 95.95. Both got exactly the same exam score and had virtually identical ratio and time scores.

For the test portion, my partner and I walked into the event expecting Chalker to be the national proctor for this event (as he was the past two times that it was run), so we were a little surprised when we found out that it was a different proctor and test-writer this year.
I can't do everything;) Although I really love this event, we decided it's about time for me to let other people get experience running it;) I did review the test though and provide feedback that was incorporated into it.
Glad that there weren't any derpy questions on the test, such as quotes or pop culture references.
Derpy?!?!?!?!?;) Some people get a kick out of those types of things, and while I admit I went overboard with them 2010, they didn't directly impact any of the questions or test content - it was window dressing on the test. Here are some example questions I just copied verbatim from that test for those of you who haven't see it:

1. “In the nick of time” – In space, how long does it take for light to travel 1mm?
3. “For old time’s sake” – What century did the European Middle Ages start in?
9. “Killing time” – What is the UTC offset for military time zone Romeo?
12. “Time flies” – A plane leaves LAX at 1:30PM and flies 2500 miles to JFK, where it lands at 10PM. What was the average flight speed?
16. “Hammer time” – A typical MP3 bitrate is 128 kb/s. M.C. Hammer’s song ‘U Can’t Touch This’ is 4:17 in length. How big is an MP3 of it?
20. “A waste of time” – The BP oil spill is discharging at a rate of 100 L / sec. The Gulf of Mexico has an area of 1.5 M km2 . Assuming all oil comes to the surface and spreads in a sheet 1 mm thick, how long will it take to cover the surface ?

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Re: National test discussion

Postby jkang » May 19th, 2015, 7:27 am

we decided it's about time for me to let other people get experience running it;)
Oh god the puns are real...
they didn't directly impact any of the questions or test content - it was window dressing on the test
Some tests I've taken have these as actual questions. I've seen questions like "What species is Doctor Who" and "How many seasons has the Simpsons been running" on tests before.

Also, would it be possible to see the raw scores for It's About Time for the top 6? Thanks! (Although the scoresheet would also be very nice ;))
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Re: National test discussion

Postby winchesetr » May 19th, 2015, 7:59 am

Disease Detectives: 10th
The test was really good. It was difficult and long, as expected of nationals, but definitely a good test. I can't tell if it was shorter/easier than last years or if my partner and I just got better, but we actually finished the test this year with some time to spare and check over answers, so yay. In terms of format, last years test and this years test were very similar with construction of questions and the emphasis on problem solving, logic, and reasoning rather than just written formulas and stuff that can be put on a cheatsheet.

Cell Biology: 23rd
The test was overall easy. Which makes it bad that we got 23rd. The proctors told us to not overthink questions, but my partner and I did a lot because we were expecting a higher level of biology knowledge to be needed, and then in addition some of the questions were ambiguous. Also the questions were all either multiple choice or fill in the blank which in my opinion is not the greatest for a nationals test.

Protein Modeling: 1st
No complaints at all on this one. I was the builder of the 3 of us, and we had some slight issues at the beginning (long story short our cheatsheets went missing so one of our group came in 15 minutes or so late, but the proctor was great and completely chill about it), but when we worked those out and got down to business, everything went well. I was able to finish the build in about 40ish minutes, and start checking the test after I finished, which seemed pretty difficult in a good way. The only question that I found to be relatively tricky was the "only proven genomic editing cure for HIV" which my partners and I ended up answering bone marrow transplant for, even though it may be a bit of a stretch to call it "genomic editing". I think our prebuild went well also, we poured a ton of time into that, so overall everything was good.
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Harriton High School Class of 2017


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