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Will I be happy at Emory?

tbhbullstbhbulls Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
I have read a quite a bit about how Emory is a place for Ivy-League rejects and how it doesn't have a football team. I personally don't mind this but will the environment around me disappoint me?

Would really appreciate a response!

Replies to: Will I be happy at Emory?

  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    @tbhbulls It usually receives high ratings in terms of quality of life and student happiness, so lots of people really like it unless they really want that SEC or big sports feel of other southern schools (you probably read many complaints on the web about that because admissions used to not be as good at recruiting so would admit tons of students more interested in an SEC feel college and then those folks will enroll. The new admissions dean appears much more careful and selects those who are actually interested in and took the time to learn something about Emory before applying, so that sentiment of students wanting a more SEC feel is diminished) By the way, most elite schools (except for maybe several in the top 10, but even some of those have mostly students denied by their first choice and perhaps all the Ivies) are places for Ivy-League rejects including many of the Ivies themselves (yes often the particular or 1 Ivy a student ends up at is not their first choice. All Ivies are not full of students admitted to other Ivies and in fact many were denied or waitlisted by several non- top 10 non-Ivies).....so you can let this concept taint your thinking and internalize it for whatever reason or you can appreciate that an excellent school takes you in. This idea of any schools being for "Ivy rejects" is way overblown. Most people who are denied or waitlisted from an Ivy were actually qualified for admission...most are just not lucky enough to get in (you're talking far below 20 or even 10% admission rates for most), just like most are not lucky enough to get into any elite school, including Emory which doesn't admit 75-78% of its applicants. You can choose to view things through an elitist lens or you can choose to get an elite education. Which one is more important? It appears that Emory students by and large find the latter more important and get out there and achieve things at very high levels (yes, at higher levels than some higher ranked and more selective peers). The strength of the alumni network (also often ranked above higher ranked peers) also suggests the same (the alumni giving rate actually creams some peers). You can't achieve these things with a bad environment, period. One would think it is more important that students be welcomed to an environment that is tolerant, diverse, and has a good academic and intellectual climate. Emory has all of those things.

    Also, Ivy Leagues have been known to disappoint students as well (social environment wise there is often an unhealthy level of competition reported, and there is often academic disappointment as well on the part of faculty and students. This is all over elite education and research universities in general. The Ivies are not the Holy Grail exception).....unfortunately they, as a group, are loosing their Gold Standard appeal to the public and those "in the know" (as in not HS seniors more driven by prestige than other things) because folks are recognizing that most are flat out over-rated and that some are not better than their lower and near ranked non-Ivy peers (such as Emory).

    *Also, statistically, Emory, like most elites is like half filled from early decision students, so that means that at minimum, a solid half of the student body viewed Emory as their first or second choice. There are more than enough people excited to attend including those in the RD pool (many of which don't even apply to Ivies. Several have LACs and more liberal arts type universities and colleges in competition with Emory).
  • tbhbullstbhbulls Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Thank you so much @bernie12

    One more question:
    How do you think Emory compares to WashU in terms of its pre-med program? And how is Emory's administration and career services?
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    @tbhbulls I wouldn't know but so much....pre-med is pre-med. What you should compare are the courses. I would say that Emory compares fine with WUSTL in the life sciences (things like chemistry, biology, and neuroscience) in terms of intensity of the course work (needed to have a fair shot at doing well on the MCAT) and "may" have more innovative teaching especially at the introductory levels of pre-health science core courses. Over half of the general chemistry sections are flipped for example, and Emory's introductory sections tend to be smaller than WashU's. The curriculum is different at each though (WUSTL has more quantum concepts in their first general chemistry course) Emory's general chemistry is supposed to undergo changes next year and I am clueless as to what that should look like if they figure it out. Biology at Emory with top instructors is likely better than most peers as there is a certain set of instructors that do more than just lecture at you. As far as I know, Emory is one of the only top privates where the large intro. biology sections have several professors doing things such as medically related case-studies and other assignments (much more intensive active learning than things like clicker questions and learning catalytics). You can take the joke instructors that are more traditional, but I don't recommend it (a lot of MCAT material honestly comes from the foundational courses in biology and they test them at the level of the top instructors). Organic chemistry, with a top instructor, I think Emory wins. They are similar rigor as the WUSTL instructors (if you don't trust me, and wanted to see the course materials to compare, I could PM you as I have some), but I investigated RMP ratings for these more rigorous instructors and Emory's seemed to be rated higher: as in maybe the instructors at Emory are more effective and less traditional or students just are more willing to receive high level instruction in the area. I suspect more of the former as, on paper, WUSTL students are stronger. The top 2-3 Emory instructors likely use far more active learning and Socratic Method (they learn all or most students' names and then go over material by asking questions and basically leading students through the problem solving process) in their organic chemistry courses, so it means students have more fun, though these sections are very difficult in terms of the level of problem-solving needed to succeed.

    Physics and Math, I haven't really looked into WUSTL in this area, but I'm going to give them the nod because Emory isn't that good if taking pre-health intro. courses in those areas, though I'm certain it is likely easier to make a higher grade in the Emory equivalents. I suppose the only neat thing about Emory, following in the footsteps of JHU, is that it has a life sciences calculus class serving pre-healths, biology, and neurosciences (for biology and NBB, it is a requirement unless you are pursuing upperlevel maths for things like a math, chemistry, or quantitative social science major) majors which exposes students to linear algebra, differential equations, and multi-variate concepts, and some calculus based statistics concepts. I would say it is better than the regular calc. 2 courses.

    Many of the intermediate and upperlevel NBB and biology courses are really good and also serve as good training for the MCAT. In fact, there are many data-analysis and problem-based learning teachers for classes like evolutionary biology and organismal biology, and friends have told me that their problem sets and exams strongly mirror MCAT passage problems, just in short answer format. They get you to analyze graphs/figures and experimental design which is what the new MCAT heavily focuses on. Also, many intermediate and advanced courses in biology have adopted "discussion sections" which are basically research article journal clubs where you write a small review on and eventually present a paper in the field. This also readies students for what is on the MCAT. These sections are a part of: evolutionary biology, human genetics, immunology, and advanced molecular genetics offerings I believe. Any course by Dr. Eisen (maybe the top instructor in the department) full focuses on case studies and reading primary literature (he typically teachers epigenetics and cell biology). Many neuroscience teachers have adopted case, problem-based, and project based learning for their special topics courses (one has even adopted for one of the main "weed-out" neuroscience courses).

    Career Services is pretty good, especially if you are on the Big 3 pre-professional tracks. They'll train you for interviews and everything. Administration, don't know. As annoying as most elite private schools but good in certain areas.

    *My investigations seem to suggest that both of these schools, among privates (especially those ranked between 10 and 25) seem more aggressive about doing science education as well as possible and this should matter to pre-healths because your success is strongly dependent on a) the quality of instruction and the level you make yourself learn at and b) the quality of support and advising you get. However, I will say, that Emory likely makes it easier for pre-meds to be tempted to take lower quality courses (which of course, are usually much easier) because for some, sections at a time are offered (or there are spring and fall offerings with instructors that differ like night and day), whereas WUSTL may only offer like 1-2 instructors per course (at one point, I think their little enrollment portals were public so I used it to disprove this person that tried to claim Emory had larger intro. courses than peers. That is utterly false. Find me the school that is Emory's size where intro. biology 1 sections have more like 50-100 students each as opposed to 200-250/section....same for general chemistry. Only exception is physics where they don't really try use active learning anyway, so those are the same as peer schools).

    This means, students at WUSTL are more likely to get a more equal and honest science education in their pre-med courses whereas Emory students can more easily trap themselves by going the low road (so these will be the weirdos with the inflated GPA's but a comparatively weaker MCAT. WashU is more like, more people with "meh" GPA's and higher MCATs). Making Emory's pre-med science courses is really up to you. One science instructor could be equivalent to being at some very top institution and another could feel more like a weaker state institution. It is okay to take the latter as GPA boosters long as it isn't in classes that are supposed to help for your MCAT, but I wouldn't ever pass up on more reputable professors in MCAT helper classes (like most of the pre-med cores and biology courses like organismal, cell biology, and genetics). If you find your GPA in a position that makes you ponder whether or not you can handle taking the best instructors offered for a pre-med core, then you know you are in trouble. WUSTL doesn't appear to present that dilemma as much, however, it does mean that if a bad, but difficult teacher teaches a core course every offering, you have no choice but to suck it up. At Emory, most bad STEM instructors are typically relatively easy (so people taking them are "sucking it up for an A") and the best do challenge you. There, I don't know if it is as predictable and controllable.
  • tbhbullstbhbulls Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Thank you so much. Couple questions stemming from what you said:

    What does "Over half of the general chemistry sections are flipped for example" mean?
    If I choose Emory, are the physics and math courses something to be worried about?
    How can I avoid trapping myself taking courses with weak professors at Emory?

    Your help is much appreciated. Thanks .
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    A flipped course is one where usually not much lecturing happens. They expect you to do a threshold of studying before coming in and then you usually do other activities in class other than just sit down and be lectured at. If you ever visit Emory, you should be able to visit or see the room where this happens (it has many round tables). I've witnessed how it works for these sections, and usually the instructor may quickly review some concept or solve a problem and then pass out a worksheet with mixed difficulty problems or higher level application types. The tables have numbers for the teams that work the problems together (I think the professors who use this method, like 3 of them) use graduate students to facilitate. This takes some getting used to as many students are used to being told to do things or just sitting and writing notes, but when done decently is more effective at building higher ordered skills (as in, when instructors ask more applied problems on exams, more students will be successful).

    The initial reaction of a student in these courses is that "they don't teach" (I suspect this comes from students expecting to get away with doing nothing before coming to class and ultimately expecting the instructor to expose them to knowledge for the first time which really isn't a good expectation in a challenging college course where the reality is...the tests don't come exactly from the books or lectures as they were presented so you have to spend much more time studying and thinking about them on your own regardless of how well the instructor lectures).....however lecturing is not really equivalent to teaching because students, in problem-solving oriented classes (at least what are supposed to be) like chemistry, are not really learning but so much from lectures. Students get more from struggling with the problems together and then having the professor to demonstrate how to think through it (that's how it appears to work. They let the tables tackle the problems for a while, and then the instructor will finally work them instead of students watch the professors work a limited amount of problem types on a board first and then they go try other problems at home, or then go on to blame the instructor for "testing problems never done in class" which technically they are supposed to do, at least at a selective university. However, this is frustrating if a student has never tried high level problems under supervision). Students who don't plan to study frequently before exams or who view teaching as the instructor lecturing will not be a fan at first. However, the grades apparently show that it may work. The flipped teachers right pretty challenging exams (one is actually much harder than previous years) that require much better conceptual understanding (when they lectured, tests were much more math based and often didn't involve as much higher level problem solving the first semester. Goes to show you that lecturing is often more conducive to memorization of facts and processes than really understanding them and being able to think about and apply them to something new) than in the past and the averages have remained the same and in the case of one section (whose section is usually known as the hardest) has actually shown quite a bit of improvement (though some of it may be due to selection effects). This suggests that it is achieving its goal.

    Physics and math- Physics 141 (the algebra/trig based one that most pre-meds take) usually has the most awesome instructor, but then 142 has someone mediocre or bad. You can maybe get two "high mediocre" (It means they are good enough to make you learn something, but nothing special) if you take the calc. based series (151/152). Math, try coming in with an AP calculus credit so that you only have to take the life sciences calculus class or simply skip lower division calculus courses altogether if you have enough credit (like a BC credit) where you can maybe take a course like multivariable or differential equations where it is more obvious who is a decent professor and who isn't. Unfortunately, with the single variable calc. series (111/112 at Emory) at many elite schools, it is kind of this throwaway course that receives little attention because only certain students take it. Those interested in more math intensive majors or math itself usually get to start at more advanced levels and choose that pathway. Emory follows this trend by sending tons of graduate students to do this (also common at other elites) and they usually end up on the easier side but their teaching is all over the place and since there isn't any RMP information on them, you are naturally taking a gamble unless you sign up for a select few that are known to be good or for the few sections run by an actual faculty member.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    @tbhbulls As for trapping yourself, that is really will-power and good decision making (as in take top instructors, but don't do thinks like overload yourself). You either are a student that wants to learn and then get into med school or one who only wants the end of medical and will take all the perceived short-cuts to get there (there are many who would admit this). You just have to be willing to work and think hard in the best prof's. courses which will involve frequent study and usage of the necessary resources. Most pre-med core science courses have supplement problem solving sessions that are led by UG's who were formerly successful in the course and are linked to an additional problem set on top of whatever book and online problems you were supposed to do. Usually these problem-sets are higher level problems that are more like difficult test problems. Some students, for some reason, think it is okay to be flaky on attendance or show up without attempting or even looking at problems first (they show up and copy answers and don't participate in what is supposed to be team learning facilitated by the UG TA) and then expect the test to go well when they never really thought through problems on their own before. Also, unless you're amazingly brilliant, usually the HS level cramming doesn't work. Effective "cramming" for a challenging science course on the lower end of the difficulty spectrum is more like the 5 days- 1 week range.

    For courses taught at the level of the top organic chemistry teachers, you probably need a learning cycle where you study daily or every other day if you can. You are falling behind if the supplemental problem set comes out and you have no clue how to do them and you are screwed if 3-4 days before the exam, you are incapable of doing any higher level problems (like those o the supplemental sets) on your own. Many students want the pre-med dream without this level of engagement and thus take the low-road and often pay the price. However, there is often the pattern of messing up and then not fixing it soon enough. So a person gets a C/C- or lower in general chemistry 2 and instead of relearning material or retaking the course in summer school or something, they just rather take the easy ochem instructor so that they can "stay on track" (I believe this is code for keeping up with everyone else) when pre-med is really their personal journey to become scientifically competent so they should fix a deficiency and then try to go in a better direction.

    There is also the effect of the grade whore that likes ego strokes, so they will try the difficult instructor (maybe they are riding high after a 4.0 year or semester), get a B grade or their first A- and then decide that they are uncomfortable having to fight to do well or having to learn beyond memorization and algorithmic problem solving to do so. In that sort of case, it is a matter of just toughening up and valuing how much more you're getting out of one level of instruction than the other. In the grand scheme of things, a couple of B's from the highest level instructor in a pre-med core is not going to hurt most life science majors who will likely have a slew of A's coming from upper-level and intermediate courses in their major. Really good teachers in certain subjects not only help you learn that subject well, but if you buy-in to their method, teach you how think in ways that make you more successful academically down the road (kind of like: "Oh, after this course, I found this course easy because X already taught me do to things at the same or a higher level") and allows you to be more versatile in course selection. Like if you're traditionally only good at more memorization, you may become more comfortable navigating courses that require more analysis than you would if you hadn't gotten your B from Dr. Weinschenk (one of the top ochem instructors) for example. In addition, prepping for that part of the MCAT (and related subjects like biochem) become more or less a joke. In comparison, getting an A in some folks' classes means almost nothing skill development wise (at least not with regard to handling higher level thinking tasks).
  • tbhbullstbhbulls Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    So, it sounds like I will be fine at Emory if I am smart and pick the right professors. In that case, would you recommend it over WUSTL?
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    @tbhbulls : Yes, you will be fine.

    The school depends on what you want. You need to visit and look at the programs at both....I cannot make any such recommendation as I don't know you intended major or other interests (other than you being pre-med which is not a major) or even what you really want in a school.
  • tbhbullstbhbulls Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Fair enough. If it helps, I want to major in Chemistry or Biology and during my four years, want to do a lot of research and volunteering. Would you be able to make a recommendation now? I would really appreciate it. Thanks
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    @tbhbulls Uhmm...not really. I suppose that combining those is more easy at Emory and if any of the chemistry revisions go through, then Emory is more interesting for that. Also, depends on what type of research you think you may be into. Both are really well known for their strides in the biomedical fields and give undergraduates tons of research oppurtunities there. All I know is that Emory's specialty is all things drug discovery and design. So there are many chemists involved in that (with Davies and Liotta being tops for that and there are also some new chemists whose chemistry is biomedically related) and the pharmacology program is really good and has many researchers that take on undergraduates.

    Advantages of Emory could be: Smaller classes w/more innovative teaching (don't get me wrong, WUSTL tries far harder than most of its peers, but with respect to courses commonly taken by pre-healths, Emory seems to have more instructors trying different things meaning that more systemic change has been occurring for quite a while. WUSTL has an ever developing engineering entity so a lot of their innovations can probably be seen in courses connected to that. Also, again, their courses at the weedout level are well...HUGE, general biology and chemistry are on the order of 300-350 per section and ochem is near 250-300 per section so it is hard to full implement certain methods for classes so large. Emory instructors have much more freedom in that arena because of the smaller section sizes) and at departmental level: Chemistry department involved in a lot of outreach efforts (meaning volunteer opps. for you) through its Chemory program and other centers (like Center for C-H functionalization).

    It also plays a major role in facilitating the Atlanta Science Festival (which has become sort of a big thing). Also, based on the looks of it, Emory's is maybe more well-equipped to throw money at high-performing undergraduates (Emory has lots of faculty members affiliated with or in some leadership position of national societies and/or pharmaceuticals), so there are many prizes (including some fairly large scholarships) thrown to undergraduates with lots of promise in the field. Juniors with a great academic and research record can receive a scholarship of 8,000 dollars for example. Also, chemistry has a fairly solid community feel mainly because it is much larger in size than many schools (especially peers) and holds tons of events and even holds its own undergraduate research symposium which is well-attended and has high participation. The biology department also has the same, but is certainly less robust than chemistry when it comes to supporting undergraduates outside of the classroom (not tons of prizes and events/gatherings that build community).

    Weaknesses: WUSTL chemistry probably has better research range because the presence of an engineering school. Their chemists are not necessarily limited to a few areas (Emory is predominantly biomolecular, organic, and physical, not much inorganic/green or environmental chemists). If there is anything much more pre-professional science curriculum wise than Emory, it's WUSTL. Their biology offerings are somewhat more geared directly toward pre-meds (but that may partially be because of the med. scholars program there) which could be good for a diehard pre-med. Emory's just takes basic sciences and does them as well as possible. I suppose a diehard pre-med at Emory could also take courses in the human health major, but these tend to be softer core courses, but there are some popular ones such as medical botany and other classes, but WUSTL's biomedically related classes are held in the biology department. With Emory, the more pre-health oriented or hardcore biological science type of classes are more in neuroscience (and these courses are done quite well. Some offerings include neuropharmacology, drug development, functional anatomy, neurobiochem, neurodegenerative diseases, clinical neuroscience practicum, brain imaging, neurophysiology lab, etc, but again, these are mainly for those majors. I've seen many NBB/chem majors with good outcomes and I also have a friend who is on the interview trail and has already been admitted to MDPhD programs and was Chem/Bio so I guess you can't go wrong with either if you take the best classes Emory has to offer and get deeply involved in your research and other things you enjoy). With that said, Emory makes 1st-2nd year graduate level courses and some public health courses (such as biostatistics) easily accessible (as many have to take them for honors thesis because Emory only does Latin Honors through research project/thesis and not GPA cut-offs).

    Again, these schools are alike in many ways in this area, but the differences are under the surface (like they have similar amount of money so have similar resources overall but departments vary in strength and emphasis on undergraduate education). Simply apply to both and make your way to visit them and sit in some of their best classes in your fields of interests. Sit in a gen. chem class at WashU and then try to ask permission to sit in one of Emory's flipped sections and see if you like what you see in either. Try to sit in good biology sections at each. You need to go visit these places or seriously pillage through their departmental websites. No one should make this decision for you. You need to at least experience them in some form or fashion yourself.
  • tbhbullstbhbulls Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Thank you so much my friend! You have helped a ton!
  • arubadudearubadude Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    Hello.. YOu bring up good points re the professors, but how do I know which would be the "harder" more Mcat ready ones vs. the others that are easier?
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    @arubadude I can only go by the way they teach and the way they write exams. I personally have a lot of the course materials from my and later Emory classes because I still tutor there every now and then and used to tutor a lot of people. Typically, those who write more memorization oriented exams are those who are not really prepping for the MCAT and usually these folks get higher "ease" ratings on websites such as ratemyprofessor because students at elite schools are very comfortable with more traditional and straight-forward examination formats. MCAT prep-level instructors are often those who write assignments, exams, teach, etc that a) at the basic level focus on a conceptual understanding (they aren't just trying to expose you to a series of results so much as a process or way of thinking) b) Write exams that ask you to think outside of the box or apply at higher levels than you did in the lecture hall. Many students will view this as unfair, but that is an expectation on the MCAT and just if you want to learn real science in general. You have to be able to make connections and apply things to unfamiliar situations (which is possible if you have a memorized a solid foundation but have also come to a conceptual understanding of it) c) data and experimental analysis or design intensive assignments and exams (material that ask you to explain a phenomenon based on a series of graphs and figures or purported experimental observations), d) Reading intensive at times ( often in line with c ). This annoys students as they claim questions are tricky or convoluted, but the reality is: that is the nature of science and medicine. You must be able to read and learn on your own and either make sense of lots of information or sift through lots of it for the relevant material and then make decisions based upon it. Also, the MCAT is passage based. Another reason that this style of exam is good, but often painful is because often it teaches you how to learn things on the spot, relate them to foundational concepts you already know, and then tackle the problem.

    Basically, if your STEM exams and assignments at a place like Emory (which is supposed to be educating and challenging a talented student body) have almost exclusively questions that are short, sweet and to the point (like a lot of multiple choice science exams in HS, or fill-in-the blank and true/false heavy exams) and extremely straight-forward, you will likely love your teacher because they are easier to study for and make it easy to get an A in, but they aren't prepping you for the MCAT nor research in science. You'll know who these profs. are because students who speak of them highly usually drop "code-words" like "fair" and "straight-forward" which is often code for: "If you memorized their notes, worked problems, or the book, it should be easy to do well". The difference between these folks and some of the more reputable instructors at Emory is night and day and students know it. The more reputable instructors require you to go a bit further in your understanding, surface learning techniques simply don't work as well. You have to either have deep understanding or be creative and be able to improvise on the spot to be successful even after studying properly. Also a big hint is that such instructors are often more prone to mixed reviews and the bad reviews are often associated with the difficulty of their courses or grades (basically many students are evaluating based on revenge and not quality. It takes some pretty mediocre or bad teaching for an easier instructor to get bad ratings, especially bad ratings that comment primarily on the difficulty of the course).

    Also, for prospective students: one may think: "oh a reading intensive exam, well, good, I did well on the verbal portion of the SAT".....while I find it helps, usually students interested in STEM are not used to having science exams like that so get frustrated easily with things like the MCAT or more challenging instructors at their school. Students are used to it in subjects like English and the social sciences but are mostly accustomed to science tests that are fact based or ask for students to regurgitate the problem solving strategies used by the teacher (IE tests and assignments have the exact same problem types as presented in class or HW and no different). It takes many some time to get used to, but people who take better instructors will likely thank that person provided that they do decently in the course (yes, unfortunately this sometimes involves a B grade).
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,394 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    Also, to address a common idea: Just because one is successful on AP and IB exams does not mean they are bound to make A's (though they are more likely to do above average provided they aren't overly confident) in college courses that are more conceptually based or challenging. The differences between an AP exam and more challenging college level exams that sometimes or often are given at highly ranked undergraduate programs include the competition. AP is heavily curved against many students that some would claim maybe should not have been taking it in the first place. Elite college student body in a STEM class is far more select, usually more biased to the higher scorers on the SAT/ACT at the school. So even in a class where the exams are only at the level of AP or marginally harder, the means will be much higher than the AP exam and there will be little to no curve. Another is predictability. If you went to an excellent or even good HS and hard good IB/AP teachers, they can pretty much teach directly to the test as the format and question types and topic coverage is extremely predictable. College teachers don't really teach to their own tests (they will provide you with a myriad of resources to prepare for whatever may be coming but they will not spoon feed material or exact question types on the tests). They just teach whatever concepts they feel is relevant, interesting, or necessary and then do whatever they feel with their exams. Sometimes there may be little congruence between a current and past exams despite the fact that the material coverage was nearly identical (one year they may feel compelled to give a fairly typical exam and another they may construct problems based on some more advanced special topic that is either cool to them or relevant to the field at that point in time). Unlike HS teachers who have incentives to have everyone get 4s/5s to make the school look good, college teachers have no incentive to really make sure that their students get all A's on their exams.

    The goals of top instructors are for as many students as possible to be able to self-direct their own learning and more or less "own" it. If they just coached students for their exams, then that cannot be achieved. The students w/B+ and higher in a challenging college course (and in some cases B and higher) are usually those who learned to go the extra mile on their own and responded relatively well to "curve-ball" prompts on exams due to a deeper understanding of the material. With AP/IB, learning at this level certainly would earn a 5 but at the same time with the low averages on certain AP/IB exams, one can earn 4/5 without being able to do higher level questions. You simply have to do other parts of the exam better than everyone else.
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