Bitching Brew

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Aaaaaah. That feels so good. I've just come through a hardcore test of my academic credentials, and I haven't flunked it! My fourth 3-hour exam in five days went quite well. It wasn't first class, as I ran out of time, but 'twas good. There were two unseen essay questions to answer.
Why has Africa's overall economic performance been so dismal for the past 20 years and what can be done to improve its growth prospects?

Why do economies grow? Discuss.

The first one suited me down to the ground; I'm better at development and trade economics than (possibly?) anyone else in the year. So I wrote a six page spiel on that. Ran out of time toward the end, so my concluding two paragraphs were messy. Nevertheless, I'll spit blood if I don't get a First for that answer. The second question was highly theoretical, and I hadn't prepared for it. In fact, it's just the kind of topic I did miserably in on Thursday. I think I pulled through, but I didn't have time to finish my arguments. It was workmanlike, and another 10 minutes would really have helped. I probably pulled something between a 57 and a 62 for that answer. So I predict an average for the paper of a mid-high 2.1. That's fine. A First would have been nice, but my exams haven't worked out that way. They've been too compacted to devote the necessary revision to any single one.

So as it stands, three of the four exams have gone well. My overall 2.1 is safe, as is the 2.1 in the major. If I assume a 65-67 in my three good exams and a 56 in my bad one, then I'm on course for a 63-65% average in Economics, which would imply a 64-66% average in the overall degree. Hmmm. I'd really like a 66; a 66 in any course is generally considered equivalent to an A in an American university. That might matter in the future if/when I go for postgrad. For readers unfamiliar with the British & Irish system, I'm aware that my talk of 2.1s and Firsts might sound... confusing! It goes as follows: a First is above 70%, a 2.1 between 60 and 69, a 2.2 between 50 and 59, and a Third - pronounced Turd ;) - between 40 and 49. Apparently these are the conversions for individual course modules:
The following is a widely adapted system of equivalences:

Mark Equivalent grade
66%+ A
63-65% A-
61-62% B+
58-60% B
55-57% B-
52-54% C+
48-51% C
45-47% C-
40-44% D
0-39% F

Even for British or Irish colleges, a "high 2.1" (code for 66%+) is the benchmark for entry into all but the most competitive courses. From my limited research, a bare 2.1 (i.e. 60-61%) appears to be rated equivalent to a GPA of 3.1 or 3.2. So regarding the high 2.1, I'd surmise that such a mark in the final degree is interpreted as an A- rather than an A, implying a GPA-equivalent of 3.5 to 3.7. It'll do the job for me.

Anyway, I'm feeling good. Went for coffee and a bagel afterwards; had a chat and cleared our minds. I might even take a break from study for the rest of the day - I do have three whole days left to study for the next one. Not enough really... but if I go hardcore, I can wing a good 2.1. Scared about the Law questions. At least my background in Philosophy should give me an edge over the other economists. I don't mean that in a competitive sort of way; I just hope it carries me through the exam.

On a lighter note: if you ever need a boost, my finals have taught me that smoothies and cream cheese bagels are the way to go. Not together though; either one alone is sufficient!

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  • Thanks so much for explaining the UK grading system! It's surprisingly hard to find info equating the grading systems of different countries.

    In New Zealand, where I'm study Economics, an A+ is typically >90%. So all this talk of needing a high 2.1 for entry into UK programmes was freaking me out.

    Thanks for clarifying :)

    By Blogger Janine, at Thu Jul 06, 11:11:00 p.m.  

  • Glad to be of help! Yes, it took me ages to get some kind of US-UK equivalence through my head. It's all a little rough; different universities seem to have slightly different rules.

    I'm not sure how the NZ system works, but the main difference between the American and British marking is that the US marks to a bell curve, roughly. They don't do that in Ireland or the UK.

    Good luck with the Economics! I've had a love-hate relationship with it! As you know, it's one of the most competitive graduate fields, so yeah, you'll need a dash of luck! :)

    By Blogger Martin, at Sat Jul 08, 12:33:00 a.m.  

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