Saturday, September 20, 2008

2 Down, 2 to Go

So, I am still recovering from the 12 hours of exams and 2 hours of intense tutoring on Thursday and Friday, yet already need to be deperately preparing for the last 4-hour written exam that I need to take on Monday.

My final written exam is my minor exam, a Formal Theory exam. If you don't have a clue what formal theory is, or why someone who studies political science would be getting a minor in it, welcome to the majority of people I meet. Formal Theory is a type of mathematical analysis of strategic situations, looking at what an individuals best course of actions would be given certain decision they have to make and goals they are pursuing. For a more in description, try This upcoming exam is why I spent 2 hours on Friday afternoon, when my brain was already complete mush from the 12 hours of exams, with a game theory professor being tutored on a certain type of model I struggle with. Luckily, he gave me some confidence. I think his exact words were "Well, you just have to show you have the intuition of formal theory and they will pass you I am sure." I don't think he has figured out yet that he, being the minor representative on my committee for oral exams, has the bulk of authority to pass or fail me on my minor.

Anyways, I am sure everyone is actually wondering how the exams went. It is hard to say. I will not know how I did on them until I take my orals in the middle of October. (I am shooting for October 13th in the AM, 3 of 4 committee members have OKed it.) The questions were less than desirable, especially on the first day. Here is a basic highlight of the exam.

Day 1: (I had to answer 4 of 9 questions)
#1 - Institutional Equilibrium vs. Equilibrium Institutions - I was prepared for this question and was fine, unfortunately its the only question I was fully prepared for.
#5 - Why do people vote the way they do? - I sort of think I answered this incorretly in that I turned it into the question "are voters rational"? Hopefully they will look beyond that a bit.
#6 - Agency versus Structure - My arguement is sound I think, but the way I went about proving it is questionable.
#8 - How useful is Social Capital as a concept? - I pretty much had to research this question as I wrote it, but its the only one that seemed doable. My answer was therefore shallow.

Day 2: (I had to answer 2 of 4 questions)
#1 - How do we prove causation without experimentation? - My answer? We don't. Think this essay is fine.
#4 - What role does normative theory have in political science? My answer? None. Pretty sure this answer is a giant rant, but since I used lots of citations in other answers, I should be fine.

And thats that... I have to defend these answers later on. They will get torn apart. I still don't understand how you are supposed to write a really good answer in only 2 hours to any of the questions they asked, but such is life.

I am off to study, nap, watch football, and worry.

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