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Overall I think it was very well run, given that it was the first time for Duke. The homeroom arrangements were great (large rooms, well-positioned, etc.), the event supervisors were helpful, and I especially liked the elastic wristband they gave out (as opposed to the typical adhesive wristband).
I do have several gripes however, mainly regarding the quality of the tests/grading. Disease Detectives and Designer Genes were great imho, they fulfilled your expectations of a States-Nationals level test, were well-paced and challenging enough to discern the good teams from the great. However, the same cannot be said for Codebusters. The test consisted of a mere 9 questions (all of which were easy), none of which were Aristocrats, which is arguably the biggest cipher category in the event. In the end, top rankings all boiled down to how quickly you solved the timed question (which, by the way, was worth twice as much as the rest of the test combined). This should not be the case. If multiple teams can ace your test, that means it's not well written. My only conciliatory remark is that the test maker had enough foresight to use the Toebes website.
On the surface, Protein Modeling was well run as well. The event supervisor was very responsive, unambiguous in his directions, and the supplies were adequate. However, after receiving our tests back, there were several major inconsistencies in the grading. Chiefly, one of our JV teams had a completely identical answer to us, yet received more points than we did. We also had a question that appeared to have not even been graded. Furthermore, (although this is debatable) some of our answers that were rejected were clearly correct (extremely basic stuff, like how Leucine is a hydrophobic amino acid). Although we did medal in the event, there is a 99% chance that the grading errors were significant enough to shift the rankings in the event.
This does sort of seem like a rant, but rest assured that on the whole, I am quite satisfied with the invitational. The quality of tests were inconsistent, yes, but it can be hard for a fledgling invitational to attract the high-quality test writers who are generally in high demand. I trust that the tests/grading will improve over time. I look forward to competing again next year!
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