Well, as some of you know, this morning I had the oral exam to accompany my project paper, where I got the chance to explain some concepts from the reading list and relate them to what I had written about. Some of you whom I know personally have asked me to let you know how I did, and I have decided that the best way to do this would be to post it here. But first, I would like to explain a bit about the Danish grading system, so that it's clear what the grade I got actually means. But first, some history.
When I left the states, I was not too surprised to discover that educational systems in other countries use other scales for evaluating student performance. What did surprise me was what was considered a good grade, or rather, the fact that there can be grades on a scale that no one would ever receive, ever. So, in Portugal for example, grades are given on a 20-point scale, but nobody gets a 20. I've heard more than once an explanation of grading that starts with '20 is for God,....' For the degree I did in England (graduate level, so no 1st, 2.1, 2.2, etc.), we got scored out of 100%. Distinction (like honors in the states, I suppose) was at 70%, and if you got much more than that, you were very, very special. I can't imagine anyone getting anywhere near perfect.
In Denmark, there is a rather strange 13-point scale. Below you will see English translations of what the numbers mean, taken from my school's exam information page.
§ 1. Course applicants, apart from course applicants at primary school and in the 10th grade will, at the time of tests included in examinations, and at the time of tests in individual subjects, be assessed individually in accordance with the points scale (the 13-point scale):
13: Is given for the exceptionally independent and excellent performance.
11: Is given for the independent and excellent performance.
10: Is given for the excellent but not particularly independent performance.
9: Is given for the good performance, a little above average.
8: Is given for the average performance.
7: Is given for the mediocre performance, slightly below average.
6: Is given for the just acceptable performance.
5: Is given for the hesitant and unsatisfactory performance.
03: Is given for the very hesitant, very insufficient and unsatisfactory performance.
00: Is given for the completely unacceptable performance.
6 is the lowest passing mark. You'll notice that there are some numbers missing: 12, 4, 2, and 1, or maybe that should be 02 and 01. Apparently, there's an extra '0' on the two lowest grades for the good old days when grades were handwritten in ink, so that enterprising students couldn't just write in a 1 in front of the number for instant performance enhancement. The grades are divided: under 5 is 'usikker' or hesitant. 6 is 'acceptabel', 7-9 is 'god' or good and 10-13 is 'udmærket' or outstanding. 13 is for the 'more than perfect' grade; I won't say that no one gets it, but it is very rare. My idea is that it is so far above the other grades that there should be a gap before it, hence the lack of a 12 grade.
Now, to get to the point: I got a 10. I have the idea from the comments given with the grade that my written paper by itself wasn't a 10, but the spoken part of the exam pulled the grade up. Considering the problems I had with the paper, and that it was in a completely new academic area for me I'm extremely pleased, and really don't think I could have done any better. I would be proud of myself, but I tend not to be able to be proud of myself in that way...too much of a perfectionist perhaps. So that you can all be proud of me instead, I will end this post with a more specific description of pre-conditions for getting as high a grade as I got.
§ 4. The points group ‘excellent’ (points 13, 11 and 10) will be given to the performances or standards where the student
1) shows comprehensive and certain knowledge and comprehension and confident proficiency in the subject,
2) distinguishes clearly between important and unimportant
3) shows a very thorough knowledge of concepts and methods as well as comprehensive proficiency in concepts and methods
4) gives an account of these and deals with a subject in such a way as to include almost all relevant conditions
5) gives an expressive substantiation for producing these conditions
6) compares or combines concepts, methods and information in a very confident way and evaluates and generalises correspondingly on the basis thereof, and
7) used his knowledge and proficiencies in the face of known problems very confidently and possibly in the face of unknown problems by combining existing principles to put forward solution options.
Yes, it's true. I'm great. ;-)