Problem Letter


Styliani Karabinaki

1234 Rainbow way

Davis, Ca 95616


February 3, 2017


David Lang

University of California, Davis

One Shields Avenue

Davis, CA 95616


Dear Professor Lang,

Hello, my name is Styliani Karabinaki, and I am one of the many UC Davis students that have participated in your Statistics 13 class. Specifically, your class of Fall 2016. Statistics 13 was one of my favorite classes last quarter because you taught the material so well and it was easy to understand. As much as I enjoyed learning about probabilities and learning how to find the Z-value, I wouldn’t necessarily want to go through the learning process all over again in my undergraduate career, unless it was necessary for a different class. Unfortunately, I am going to have to repeat Statistics 13, because your exams were too long for the amount of time we were given to complete the exam.
Not having a sufficient amount of time to complete the exam leads to students, like myself, to get bad grades, resulting in failing the class and having to retake it. I understand that the classes are structured around a particular time frame and can’t exactly make the examination time longer, but have you considered making the exams shorter?

Having a shorter exam would mean that the students will be able to pace themselves through the exam and not have to rush; avoiding those little mathematical errors that could result in a wrong answer. Also, having a shorter exam would take a lot of stress off the students. With each exam being 30% of our final grade it puts a lot of pressure and stress on us having to do well. When the exam consists of thirty-five-word problems for fifty minutes of examination time, it easy to see how the students feel rushed. We have about a minute and a half to spend on each question. That involves reading the question, comprehending it, and solving it. A mathematical question includes equations that need a lot of steps to be resolved, something that would take more than a minute and a half to solve correctly. After every exam the students would gather outside the classroom to discuss how they think they did, or what they did wrong/ right, expressing their stress and fears of getting a low score. Most importantly, I would hear almost everyone talk about how they ran out of time and didn’t finish their exam.

If making the exam shorter is too difficult, another option would be simplifying the word problems. Long word problems add to the problem of not having enough time for completing the exam. A lot of the questions on the test are in fact word problems, and the students spend a lot of time reading through irrelevant information to find the actual information that is needed to solve it. For example, “The overnight shipping business has skyrocketed in the last ten years. The single greatest predictor of a company’s success is customer service. A study was conducted to determine the client’s satisfaction levels for one overnight shipping business. In addition to the satisfaction of the customer’s level, the customers were asked how often they used overnight shipping. The results are shown below in the following table”. This question is an exam question taken from the Fall 2016 Midterm 1 exam. As you can see the question involves background information in the first two sentences that are not necessary for solving the problem. That might not seem like a significant change to the problem, but when it happens to most of the word problems it adds up to the time we wasted reading irrelevant information when we could have spent that time solving the problem.

Most of the students taking your class are planning to go to some higher education after UC Davis that requires a GPA 3.0 and above, therefore these exam grades and the overall grade in the class affects us in the long term.What if this class grade is the reason I’m not going to be able to achieve my dreams of going to medical school? Right now having a D+ letter grade on my transcript for your Statistics 13 class brings down my GPA tremendously. No medical school is going to look at that D+ on my transcript and believe that I tried very hard to do well in the class. I went to tutoring services twice a week; I read the textbook, I did all the homework, went to your office hours, attended the lectures and still ended up with a D+ in your class because the exams were too long to complete. I believe that it’s unfair to students that worked hard in your class, to get a bad grade for something that’s out of our control. I remember speaking to you about the exams after lecture one day. I asked you if there was any extra credit I could do to get some points back, and you told me the best thing I could do was to do better in the final exam. I explained to you how if I had not been able to finish the previous exams there was no way I was going to complete the final exam. Disappointment and stress once again overwhelmed me. After the final exam, I rode my bike in tears all the way home, feeling frustrated and not good enough to go to UC Davis. I don’t think any student should feel like that after any exam.

Overall I believe that you are an excellent professor, and I do feel like I learned statistic last quarter, even if my grade doesn’t show it. Fixing the timing problem for the exams would make future student’s experience with the class a much better one. I appreciate you taking the time out of your very busy day to read my letter, and I hope my suggestions can help with solving the problem.


Styliani Karabinaki



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