Poorly Run Event Stories

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varunscs11
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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby varunscs11 » February 18th, 2018, 10:23 pm

The rest of the test is just more information that you can easily add to your binder later. ]
extremely good study material post-competition
^This was the goal of my exam (which bird and fan have articulated better than I did)
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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby Concord » February 18th, 2018, 10:24 pm

There were not 542 questions, rather 542 points.

Also, about the other things, although I too didn't take the SOUP Herp. test I personally also think that longer tests are always better to take, in which the more you don't know, the better the test. At an invitational, one of the most important things (after comparing yourselves with other teams) is to learn from the tests that you take and then have more knowledge for regionals/state/nationals. If the test is long, even if it's excessively long, that just means you have more information to learn. Instead of complaining about the test even further, use this as motivation to learn all of the information on the test and even more and then do better at the next invitational. If you didn't place where you wanted to, use this as motivation to do better and win at the next competition.

Additionally, when Varun said that teams might've not been "highly skilled", I think he was referring to comparing them at a nationals level. It's reasonable to say that right now, in February, most teams aren't yet at a nationals level. He isn't saying that ONLY the teams that didn't perform as well aren't where they are supposed to be, but rather that everyone still has space to improve, including the top teams. This is made clear when he says that "One final thing, no team even got all the ID right or in fact got close". There's still space to improve greatly for everyone, and if any one person didn't necessarily perform as well at this invitational, that just means they can get even more motivation from here to learn more and win at the next competition. Don't take this as an insult to any one person in general, as I don't think that is what he was meaning to say from it.

Furthermore, past invitationals have also had relatively longer and harder tests, i.e. Ecology at MIT for the past 2 years, which has been a time constraint both times. Additionally, I don't recall either hearing anything bad about the MIT Rocks test, and I actually think our team said it was a pretty good rocks test. As someone who tried to write a more difficult and higher quality test for an event, and it didn't turn out as well, especially when I often times criticize other tests of the same event for being low quality, it changes my perspective to respect whoever writes the tests a great deal more, especially at higher level invitationals such as SOUP. I personally feel like Varun's responses to the criticism were perfectly reasonable, if not slightly overboard. However, we have to consider that he's likely put in countless hours writing such a long test, trying to use information that isn't repetitive and brings the test to another level of difficulty-unlike many that you find at other less prestigious invitationals. As someone who takes the test, its easier to criticize the test maker when you feel like the test isn't up to par, but it's significantly harder to write a quality test, so credit should be given to Varun even if you thought the test wasn't exactly quality because of the length.

However, since I actually didn't take the herpetology test, and all of what I'm saying might sound like complete garbage, I'm not saying that criticism shouldn't be given, but if you feel like Varun's responses are completely excessive, it's important to think in their perspective: as someone who spent a lot of their own time writing what they hope to be a quality test, and then to receive only complaints but no compliments on their work.

Just my personal opinion-I didn't read over this so it might sound kinda all over the place+ sorry for the grammar; I got a B in ELA 1. Additionally, keep in mind that this is my interpretation of what Varun means, so if I am wrong, then don't take this seriously.

EDIT: everything i wrote sounds choppy maybe this is why i got a B.
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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby lumosityfan » February 18th, 2018, 10:33 pm

Except that as much as too long isn't a big deal apparently, it becomes stupidly difficult. After a while, you just get clumping at the bottom. (Also you discourage people who don't want to do scioly aftewards.) Also, pls stop with this elitist attitude that you can't learn from people. We like your tests. We think they can improve. That's totally fair. I'm always open to criticism. I'll listen to it. Doesn't mean I'll necessarily put them into effect. But I'll listen to it. I consider you do that same. Also, I disagree that you should worry about the teams that "were flying out to come to the competition " Those teams happen to be very good teams who, um, can afford to travel to Philadelphia. What about Cy-Falls, Langham, AAS, and other TX schools that don't have the ability to pay thousands of bucks to travel to Philly? That attitude just continues the elitism that I'm seeing constantly now: people appealing to the "top teams" and just using that excuse as a way to brush issues under the rug. Yes, the top teams may seem to keep things alive. Newsflash: it won't. The people under the top teams, the medium to not so good teams, are the teams that will keep scioly afloat. By discouraging those teams from coming back, you slowly erode the foundation of scioly until eventually only top teams will come compete. Which will happen anyways, slowing the growth of Science Olympiad. Also finally "mine is just different from yours and I'm not going to apologize for that or accept any claims that yours is better than mine" is a terrible excuse. We don't care your tests are different. We want to help. I want to give an analogy to another competition that I'm involved heavily in: qb. QB used to and still has the same issues that we have now: the inability to listen to criticism because people work hard for those tests and we should just be grateful. QB is even more dependent on format and tests because without qb packets there is no event. At least scioly can borrow tests. QB can't borrow packets (mainly because most of them are published online another thing scioly should do :) ) QB still manages to establish discussion forums that invite discussion to the set. Instead of hiding discussion and just throwing it out the window, how about we be willing to accept each other's criticisms and improve our product? We appreciate all you do. We just think it can be better. That's totally fair.
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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby RestingDoll » February 18th, 2018, 10:35 pm

There were only 17 stations, with 14 having specimens to identify and most answers were a few word answers (originally I had 15 but had to add 2 more because there are 17 teams per block). And you had 2.5 minutes to complete each station. 10% is approximately 1 question per station (some had more). Also there were a lot of bonus points built in for knowing extra knowledge, I think New Trier was the only team to get any of them.

A mistake lots of teams make on the exam was not working separately on the MC portion. I know you couldn't have taken the exam apart but there are many ways to make it work. I know there were only 7.5 minutes total to work on Part A, but a lot of the questions were easy points, that few teams got.
17 stations makes a lot more sense, and also sounds more like what you would do. For the MC, personally I'm not a fan of separated packets of questions unrelated to the stations because it's just more papers to keep track of, but I can understand the appeal.

I still think even 1 in e.g. 15 questions being trivia is too much, though we may be working off of different definitions of "trivia".
Hi! I have a few things to say to this:

Firstly, I don't know about the last time block, but rotation instructions would've been extremely helpful for me, and shouldn't have "slipped through the cracks" regardless. We weren't even told in the beginning which way the stations rotated - a lot of people went the wrong way because they assumed the rotation was to the right when it was actually to the left.

Secondly, even if the supervisors have no control over the room, why were the stations taped to the chairs?? This made it extremely difficult to balance a binder, bend over and look at the station, and try to write on the answer sheet at the same time, especially with the tiny space between the desks and the seats below.

Thirdly, point differences being miniscule is obviously not good, but neither is having the top team only getting 20% of the points. Both are extremes that should be avoided. And about the length - an alum from my school peer reviewed your test and told you it was too hard but apparently that meant nothing because you said you didn't care and that it was your "style". Maybe you should listen to your peers next time - 10-15 short answer questions is too much for a station that was only, what, 2 minutes long? My partner couldn't even write simultaneously because she was trying to balance and use the binder so that left me frantically scribbling down what I could. At that point, it becomes a matter of who's the fastest writer, not who knows their stuff. 6-8 short answer questions? Probably fine. 10-15? Way too much, so much that it even became a nuisance to find which question I was answering (since I skipped around as I'm sure most people did).

Fourthly, let's talk about the content! As Cherrie said, there was too much fringe information - things that were relevant but weren't really to the event. Additionally, some of the ID was really pointless - asking us to identify 12 range maps at a station, or 4 different skeletons. This isn't me whining like "oh no range maps and skeletons!!!" It's just that the sheer amount of it made it pointless, when combined with the questions. Sure, maybe some of the content were things that top schools would have known, but a majority of it was so high level that that test probably could've made an actual herpetologist light-headed. I mean pictures of blood cells and skin sections? How were we supposed to know that?

And finally, maybe you're right! Maybe Cherrie just /sucks/ at herpetology. But also maybe next time, before you indirectly call my team member not smart enough or not hard-working enough, you should consider the extremely valid criticisms on your event. I heard complaints after Rocks at MIT, and I heard complaints after this one as well. No one is "clinging" to the notion that a test has to be a certain format with certain questions. We just want a test that gives a more valid representation of how good we are at the event. And if your goal was to help people practice for future competitions, I have to say, I didn't really find it that valuable as a practice. In fact, it felt like a complete waste of time. But that's just my opinion!
1) The rotation instructions were perfectly clear, marked by arrows, and was in fact explained before the event started (different time slots might have had different stories concerning the rotation).

2) I agree, the room was not stellar, but not impossible/I've had worse.

3) I disagree. Simply put, as long as there's some differentiation between tiers of teams, the maximum or minimum should not matter. You're not trying to test how much one team knows, but how much they know relative to everyone else. Furthermore, while the length was long, many of those stations were easily doable (anoles, distribution graphs, teeth, crocs, typhlomolge); conversely, I really struggled with stations that I had not prepared as much for.

4) Too much fringe information?? The whole point is to test your general understanding of herpetology, and I guarantee you that nothing on the test was irrelevant. Furthermore, 12 range maps for 2.5 minutes did not have any extra short answer attached to it. Blood cells and skin sections should not have been something unexpected (unless anatomy and physiology have some other meaning I don't know of).

5) I feel like the test was an extremely good representation of how well we know herpetology (no one really knows anything). The format that Varun presents is, in my opinion the best type of test for uncovering what could be asked, and helps us as competitors improve in both speed and knowledge without being overly reliant on a binder. And if it really feels like a complete waste of your time, perhaps next time don't show up.

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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby lumosityfan » February 18th, 2018, 10:36 pm

Also there comes a point where length just becomes stupid. We like long tests. We just think they're too long. That is a fair opinion. How about trying to defend your points instead of just saying "they work hard"? QB writers work hard. Some QB writers work harder than a lot of the people on this forum combined. They still accept criticism (albeit with fights that I won't get into now :| ). I suggest you do the same. Also RestingDoll, your last couple of sentences is exactly my point about elitism: just bashing teams because oh they didn't like it or that it could be better. That's a great way to discourage participation in science olympiad.
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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby syo_astro » February 18th, 2018, 10:41 pm

Okay, I was going to write a line or two per post instead of a long rant like most posts do. Instead, I'll just summarize my summaries.

Cherrie is in the right to post her issue. varun replied, this is a forum, that happens. Nobody is trying to say you didn't work hard. Nobody is trying to say you are evil. Let's just respect both Cherrie and varun, and varun respect Cherrie (I should say this both ways, but Cherrie seems to have stopped posting, and I could totally imagine being intimidated by all these posts >.>). Nobody says you have to do what she wants, but she had a major issue, and maybe the test was too long. If you don't think so, fine, but we can end the story there. If you're willing to argue more about evidence, philosophy, etc, let's do it elsewhere.

The rest of you calm down. Seriously, it's not worth getting this riled up. If you want a thread on test difficulty or elitism, let's move that to something else on general chat please.

Edit: One last thing. This is my perspective. I am invested in outreach (as I'm sure varun, other grads are), written many tests for various levels (again as have others), and have also gotten lots of criticism. It happens.
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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby RestingDoll » February 18th, 2018, 10:45 pm

Also there comes a point where length just becomes stupid. We like long tests. We just think they're too long. That is a fair opinion. How about trying to defend your points instead of just saying "they work hard"? QB writers work hard. Some QB writers work harder than a lot of the people on this forum combined. They still accept criticism (albeit with fights that I won't get into now :| ). I suggest you do the same. Also RestingDoll, your last couple of sentences is exactly my point about elitism: just bashing teams because oh they didn't like it or that it could be better. That's a great way to discourage participation in science olympiad.
I mean, you're discrediting something that a volunteer put a lot of time and effort into making by claiming it was "waste of time". It was definitely not a waste of time.

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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby ninhed87 » February 18th, 2018, 10:49 pm

Also, pls stop with this elitist attitude that you can't learn from people.
This is just my 2 cents, but I don't think that's what he's trying to say. I think he's just saying that your points are valid, but he's not going to change his exams accordingly. He can't make everyone happy, he's just choosing to make those who are traveling from afar happy because he probably knows what it's like to go to an out of state invite and not have a good experience. Also, I don't think the reason Cy-Falls and Langham don't go to out of states is because they don't have the funding to do so because the Cypress urban cluster is ranked among the 50 wealthiest urban clusters. There might be other reasons such as lack of interest or the fact that they can still probably get the exams without paying any money.

"By discouraging those teams from coming back, you slowly erode the foundation of scioly until eventually only top teams will come compete"
This seems a like a slight exaggeration

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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby ninhed87 » February 18th, 2018, 10:50 pm

Okay, I was going to write a line or two per post instead of a long rant like most posts do. Instead, I'll just summarize my summaries.

Cherrie is in the right to post her issue. varun replied, this is a forum, that happens. Nobody is trying to say you didn't work hard. Nobody is trying to say you are evil. Let's just respect both Cherrie and varun, and varun respect Cherrie (I should say this both ways, but Cherrie seems to have stopped posting, and I could totally imagine being intimidated by all these posts >.>). Nobody says you have to do what she wants, but she had a major issue, and maybe the test was too long. If you don't think so, fine, but we can end the story there. If you're willing to argue more about evidence, philosophy, etc, let's do it elsewhere.

The rest of you calm down. Seriously, it's not worth getting this riled up. If you want a thread on test difficulty or elitism, let's move that to something else on general chat please.
Agreed, this is so true.

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Re: Poorly Run Event Stories

Postby pikachu4919 » February 18th, 2018, 11:32 pm

...lumo, ik know you compare quizbowl and scioly all the time and how they can learn from each other, but seriously, accept that quizbowl != scioly and that it’s not terribly probable that they would possibly even think about communicating with each other for a long time (Granted, I never did quizbowl md I’m not sure what kinds of things happen amongst these competition organizations at administrative levels). Quizbowl is quizbowl, scioly is scioly, they have lots of mutually exclusive aspects that it would be unrealistic to expect those things to come together for both.

That being said, here is a look into the mind of another Div-D’er that’s been to lots of tournaments so far and to tournaments of similar prestige as varunscs11 (we were both MIT proctors) -

Honestly, my tests, like varunscs11’s, do lean towards the harder, longer end. If you think 542 pts is long, my Wright State (Invy) 2017 forensics exam was 365 pts long, my MIT forensics exam was 700 pts long, and my Princeton one was 587 pts long. I actually do adopt a bit similar of a style to varunscs11 - although my tests are also long and near impossible to finish completely, I also design them to be more like good post-exam study material, even though imo it seems that my exams target depth more than breadth.

But also being said, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to write an amazing exam that shouldn’t end up in this thread. I think I’ve spent around 100-300 hours writing all the tests that I did this season (MIT forensics, Purdue crime busters + 1/2 Purdue forensics, Princeton forensics, 1/2 UMich anatomy (C), and now, the upcoming Indiana State Tournament Thermo B/C tests), and that’s fitting it in around my already packed college student schedule (those who know me well know that I do a lot of things). It’s a huge sacrifice of time and effort to write even a “good” test, and personally, I applaud proctors who are willing to do that. I haven’t seen SOUP herpetology, but I’ve also asked some things that may seem somewhat ludicrous to those who closely study CFL’s forensics style (i.e. Princeton Forensics #2, #7, #9, #10, #15, #25, #31), but I aim for those to stretch competitors’ minds. And then for UMich anatomy, my co-writer and I made a stations test, in which the beauty of those kinds of exams is that you really, REALLY have to know your stuff instead of relying on your binder since the time constraints at each station won’t really allow you much time to look at whatever notes you have. As much as you may not like the stress of stations test, it is a great way to separate out those who rely on their notes and those who actually know the stuff.

So far, my test strategy has really worked - my highest percentages on a lot of my tests usually hang around 40-60 percent (except for Umich where the highest was around 75 percent but then every score after that dropped pretty quickly) but I pretty much have very few ties on my tests since they’re quite difficult (5 2-way’s in 70 teams for MIT, 1 2-way in 48 teams for Princeton, and 4 2-way + 1 3-way in 45 teams for UMich, with rarely any of these ties were at the very top).

Difficult tests effectively do a great job of separating the good, the bad, and the great teams while also giving those who take them good post-competition study material to help them improve. I too think that the crap varunscs11 is getting from some of y’all is a bit much, even if it’s YOUR opinion that it wasn’t run as well as it could have been, imo you should still give him credit for spending a sh*t ton of time to put a test of that length/difficulty together so that maybe, you can learn what he hopes you will learn from his test. And also, for logistical things about events being run not-so-well, sometimes you can’t necessarily blame the proctor for that since facility reservations, esp on college campuses, are not as easy as you think (for MIT I almost had to run forensics entirely test-only without the lab, and for Princeton, our lab didn’t have gas outlets and thus we had to use alcohol burner lamps instead), and the proctors had to make do with whatever room they got. Honestly, I thought I was going to get a lot of crap for how difficult my exams were or, in the case of forensics, how the labs had to be set up according to the architecture/layout of the lab, but somehow, I’ve been somewhat pleasantly surprised by all the positive comments I’ve gotten about my exams (whether said on the forums or said to me directly for those who actually do know me).

TL;DR: I’m not saying you have to like/praise varunscs11’s tests, I’m just saying that some of the crap that some of y’all are giving him is a bit unnecessary and a bit over the top, ESP since not all of it may be his fault and since he dedicated a lot of time to creating something that can help all who take his tests become better competitors for later in the season when it does matter. Honestly, imo y'all competitors should be thankful if you get great proctors bc unfortunately, those are pretty rare. We just can't all have nice things all the time - that's just a fact of life.

And also, with the responses tossed around about this matter recently, I think all parties are just upset and responding in a totally almost natural way, albeit too emotionally. Competitors are really upset that it didn't go well for them, but I bet varunscs11 is definitely also just as upset that he put in so much effort just to see it end up here and attacked quite brutally by several users. When everyone gets super upset, it spirals out of control, and that's not good. It's just an invitational, it doesn't count towards whether you make state or nationals or not, and they're here for what you want - for good practice for the tournaments that do matter. So let's all just chill.

Lesson to learn for competitors - as much as you tell us event supervisors how much we have to know the rules (and believe me, some of us do although there are def several that don't), if you put stuff here, keep in mind that event supervisors who read these threads DO EXIST, and that these event supervisors aren't cold, unfeeling people that only live to make children cry. They still have feelings too, and if they see what you write here and it's really caustic, it could potentially hurt them as much as whatever they did hurt you.

(I also agree with syo, who posted while I was typing this all out on my phone early in the morning, which is why my response may not be terribly coherent, but then it was edited later, which makes it somewhat more coherent)
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