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    'Final year economics students at Sheffield University are furious after an exam this week contained questions they found "impossible".'

    e.g. Question 3


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31057005
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    So I sent this article to a friend of mine who did Econ at Cambridge for undergrad.

    His response:

    "Ok, this is a final year paper? You may need some very basic first year knowledge (or first term when you went to Cam) to get full marks on the qualitative parts of the question in picture (actually some reasonable economic intuition would suffice), but the maths seems extremely straight forward.

    In addition:
    “students had to choose to answer two out of three questions - but claim one of these was on a topic that had not been included in lectures, reading lists or revision papers. "It was completely alien to us. We had never seen it before and had never seen the terms it used," said one”
    ->
    That’s called a good exam in Cambridge because at least you have had 2/3 topics in lecture before.

    My very first supervision was harder than this!

    Again, HOW THE ACTUAL **** is that a FINAL YEAR paper???"
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    What was his answer to the questions or did he just say it was really easy?
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    (Original post by ClickItBack)
    "Ok, this is a final year paper? You may need some very basic first year knowledge (or first term when you went to Cam) to get full marks on the qualitative parts of the question in picture (actually some reasonable economic intuition would suffice), but the maths seems extremely straight forward."
    Your friend at Cambridge's reaction is that this is sooooooooooooooooooo easy and he is sooooooooooooooooooo much smarter that the answer must be soooooooooooooooooo obvious that he would not possibly condescend to answering it himself?

    So he's rude ... but also insecure. Would anyone claim the level of econ is the same at Sheffield and Cambridge? Nobody I know. But your friend feels the need to reinforce this repeatedly ... while failing to answer the question.

    Typical.
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    The issue was that they hadn't been prepared for it, not that the question was hard.

    I can't answer it because I have no economics background. The maths doesn't look difficult, but I'm a maths graduate so you would expect that. I'll be interested to hear answers from economics students.
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    Signing the petition isn't the smart thing to do.

    First, the posted question is not even impossible. It is easy for those who took their basic calculus courses seriously. (a) You can mention organization, training, communication and transportation costs. The second one, you can argue that for every additional participant, he will have to interact on some level with the other participants. Thus, N x N interactions (N squared). (b) Use first derivative to get the peak of the graph and the optimal N* = (sigma / 4*gamma)^2/3. Find second derivatives to capture points where the curvature changes. (c) The definition is there. Just solve for N* = 1. For the follow-up question, you can answer this with one word: Technology. Of course, you have to expound on it.

    Second, this incident will just expose how the students handle a difficult situation (which isn't difficult) with excessive complaining (yes, petition, petition, petition!). I do not think employers want whiners.

    This is sad.

    ps: I do not have an economics degree.
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    (Original post by I. Dzhugashvili)
    Your friend at Cambridge's reaction is that this is sooooooooooooooooooo easy and he is sooooooooooooooooooo much smarter that the answer must be soooooooooooooooooo obvious that he would not possibly condescend to answering it himself?

    So he's rude ... but also insecure. Would anyone claim the level of econ is the same at Sheffield and Cambridge? Nobody I know. But your friend feels the need to reinforce this repeatedly ... while failing to answer the question.

    Typical.

    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    What was his answer to the questions or did he just say it was really easy?
    To be fair the context was just a conversation between the two of us, so it wasn't really there to put anyone else down. Also I didn't ask him to answer it - I just asked him what he thought of the question (I have no economics background myself so I could not state whether the question was unfairly difficult or not myself, though I didn't think it was that hard to interpret even without economics knowledge).

    I only posted it because I thought his reaction was amusing and because I infer from it that signing petitions over the question's impossibility is a bit of an overreaction when it is certainly not outrageously beyond the level expected of the final year of an Economics degree.
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    (Original post by ClickItBack)
    I only posted it because I thought his reaction was amusing and because I infer from it that signing petitions over the question's impossibility is a bit of an overreaction when it is certainly not outrageously beyond the level expected of the final year of an Economics degree.
    Your mate is probably a bull****ter. The question clearly doesn't require any particularly sophisticated analysis, however you need some understanding of exactly what is being asked - which just isn't clear from the question.

    I'd like to know how your friend would derive a consumption function from this info.

    I've seen errors in exams like this many times - I'm very inclined to believe that the examiner is fundamentally incompetent and that the students are fully within their rights to demand something be done.
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    (Original post by Classical Liberal)
    Your mate is probably a bull****ter. The question clearly doesn't require any particularly sophisticated analysis, however you need some understanding of exactly what is being asked - which just isn't clear from the question.

    I'd like to know how your friend would derive a consumption function from this info.

    I've seen errors in exams like this many times - I'm very inclined to believe that the examiner is fundamentally incompetent and that the students are fully within their rights to demand something be done.
    Isn't consumption just output minus co-ordination cost, producing a very simple algebraic function to plot and then differentiate?

    I'm a physics graduate (and IIRC ClickItBack is a maths graduate), so maybe the perspective is different, but I would consider this an AS level maths question wrapped up a bit more tightly than usual in fluff. The economic intuition is also extremely simple.

    Now sure one shouldn't set an AS level maths question to, say, people with only GCSE maths instruction. Maybe that is what happened here. But should it be possible to reach, let alone pass, final year econ with that level of knowledge?

    I'm not sure someone who couldn't make a good fist of this question in their first week's homework set has any business studying economics at all.

    edit:
    (Original post by BBC)
    As well as students taking a BSc in economics, the paper was sat by students taking a joint BA honours with other subjects, such as politics.
    That explains it.
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    Maths support at Sheffield is excellent, most courses also have a built in maths module and I distinctly remember my friend learning this sort of maths in his first year of economics. Surely in an exam for your final year you should be able to apply knowledge you've acquired throughout your degree?
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    (Original post by RL30)
    ...

    you can argue that for every additional participant, he will have to interact on some level with the other participants. Thus, N x N interactions (N squared).
    But the formula is per capita
    So there is no justification for N^2
    In fact I think N ^(2/3) is more realistic
    (b) Use first derivative to get the peak of the graph and the optimal N* = (sigma / 4*gamma)^2/3.
    This assumes productivity function which is also unrealistic using this I must assume that if

    I live in a village of 100 I will be 10 times as productive as if I live on my own ... I don't think so
    Find second derivatives to capture points where the curvature changes.
    Don't need that.. Stationary point is a maximum
    (c) The definition is there. Just solve for N* = 1. For the follow-up question, you can answer this with one word: Technology.
    Technology is not necessarily the answer. Cities prosper because of specialisation, economies of scale, and reduced transportation costs
    Eg Astecs had cities without technology

    And I have technology living in a village
 
 
 
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