Fall 2007  PHY 126  Classical Physics B 

Exams and grading policy


The exams will cover the book sections indicated in the course schedule. Each exam will be cumulative in the sense that you will be responsible for information covered in previous exams. However, the second midterm will focus primarily on information covered after the first midterm, and the final exam will have some emphasis on material covered after the second midterm, although the whole course will be covered. Examples of the sort of problems you might expect can be found here.

The exams will emphasize basic principles over memorization, and will be closed book. A sheet of physical constants and formulas will be supplied.

You should bring a pen/pencil and a hand-held calculator capable of doing simple arithmetic and trigonometric functions to the exam. Sorry, we can not provide a replacement calculator (or allow exchange of calculators). If yours does not work or you forgot to bring one you will have to complete the exam with out the aid of a calculator. We will be checking your identification before each exam. You must bring a photo ID to the exams. Acceptable IDs: Stony Brook student ID, driver's license, green card/passport, etc.

Notebooks computers or hand-held devices with more than 2Mb of memory, devices with infrared ports or any other communication options (beepers, cell phones, buzzers, etc.) are not allowed. If you have a question about a particular calculator, ask.

We expect no communication between students on the exams. Any evidence of cheating will be reported to the academic hearing officer and will also result in a stiff grade penalty. Leaving the exam room is by permission only. The text of the exam may not leave the room before the exam is over. (After the exam is over you are encouraged to take home the text and review it.)

For numerical questions, the following rough guidelines apply for grading on a scale of 10:

  • For full credit, the correct answer and units are not sufficient. The main steps of the solution, with basic equations and important partial results should be presented on the space provided on the exam sheet.

  • Unit missing in end result (but otherwise your work shows correct SI units): full credit minus 1 point.

  • Far too many (or too few) significant digits: full credit minus 1 point

  • Correct equations, correct algebra, numerical error (but still a reasonable value): full credit minus 1 point

  • Correct equations, correct algebra, numerical error (outside the correct range of magnitude): full credit minus 2 or 3 points

  • Correct equations, mistake in algebra or inability to solve equations: half credit plus possible extra points.

  • Correct equations, nothing more: 1 point credit, possibly more.

  • Correct equations, and a bunch of other formulae with no relevance to the problem: no partial credit.

  • Nothing else except graphs or arguments indicating that you understand the basic concept: 1 or 2 points partial credit, possibly more.

It should be emphasized that these are rough guidelines. The specific grading criteria for each problem on an exam will depend on its difficulty.


We recognize that we may make mistakes, and we want to give you an opportunity to help us to correct them. The graded exams will be returned to you in the recitation session following the exam date. The solutions to the exam problems will be discussed on the same session. You may want to make notes on your exam during the discussion, but you must use a writing instrument that is markedly different from the pen/pencil used during the exam. It must be emphasized, any marks made on the exam after it has been returned must be made in a clearly different pen/pencil. If an exam is returned for regrading with modifications that are not clearly indicated, it will be counted as cheating and dealt with accordingly.

  • If you believe that the grading of your exam needs reconsideration, talk to your recitation instructor first. If you and your recitation instructor agree that a mistake was made, your recitation instructor will correct the error (in the case of trivial mistakes like incorrect addition of scores by the grader) or else take the exam for regrading, with a note explaining the grievance.

  • Exam books will be accepted for regrading only on the same day that you received the graded exam in recitation. You should ask for the regrading at the end of the recitation session.

  • If partial credit is contested, the whole exam may be regraded. Your grade may go up, remain unchanged, or possibly even go down.

Absences and make-ups:

Three make-up labs are scheduled during the semester. You may make up one lab during each period. During the first make-up lab, you may complete one of the first three labs. During the second make-up lab, you make complete one of labs 4-6. During the third make-up lab, you may complete one of labs 7-8. Please contact your lab TA if you missed a lab and want to have a make-up.

If you have a medical condition that influences your ability to take the exams at the regular time, contact the staff in the Disabled Student Services office (DSS) in Room 133, Humanities, 632-6748, at the beginning of the Semester.

If you know in advance that you can not make it to a midterm (due to major family events, scheduled medical procedure etc.), let me know at least 9 days before the exam (i.e. on the Wednesday the week before). A make-up exam will be arranged for you one week before the regular exam time, covering the same material as the regular exam. No make-up exams will be offered for unexpected absences.

Absence from the exams will be excused only in emergencies. The necessity of an absence must be documented: for example, if you were ill, a letter from a doctor attesting to this fact would be required. The letter should have the doctor's phone number, and we reserve the right to call the doctor's office for confirmation.

Course grade:

Your final letter grade for the course is calculated from a weighted sum of your performance, as follows:

  • Midterms - 30% (15% each)

  • Final Exam - 30%

  • Laboratory - 20%

  • Homework - 10%

  • Recitation - 10%

Your recitation grade will be assigned by your Recitation Instructor within course-wide guidelines. The different letter grade assignments will be based on a compromise between absolute standards and the distribution curve of the whole class. In other words, if the whole class does particularly well, the mean grade can rise above the B-/C+ level, and if the whole class does particularly poorly, the mean grade can sink below this level. The entire course staff will grade the exams. The recitation and laboratory grades will be scaled to make sure that your recitation or lab instructor's grading style does not lead to unfair variations in your final grade.

Missing labs:

You are required to complete all laboratories. If, for whatever reasons, you end up with missing lab(s) we will average the Lab grade for the full set, including zeros for missed labs. In addition, if you miss more than one lab, each additional missing lab will be penalized by dropping your course grade by two 'notches'. (A 'notch' is a bump from B- to C+, C to C-, etc. For example, if you miss 3 labs altogether and your grade would otherwise have been B-, you will receive a grade of D+.)

Missing exams:

If you had an excused absence on one of the two midterms, you did not miss the other midterm and your lab reports were submitted on time, a properly calculated average of your other grades will replace your midterm grade. An unexcused absence, or excused absences from each of the two midterms will result in the loss of the corresponding contribution to your final grade.

An unexcused absence from the final leads to an automatic F grade. An excused absence from the final exam (but satisfying all other course requirements) will qualify you for an incomplete grade in the course.

Academic honesty:

Everything that you submit must be your own work. Submission of (partially) identical or overly similar lab reports counts as cheating and results in zero points for the lab for all parties involved. Do not attempt to cheat on homework problems, which are essential for you to digest and understand the course material, and thus to get ready for the exams. If you cheat, you are depriving yourself of this essential learning process. Finally, any cheating on the exams is easy to detect and has most severe consequences.

Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Any suspected instance of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Judiciary. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the academic judiciary website at http://www.stonybrook.edu/uaa/academicjudiciary/

8/30/2007 D. Schneble; this policy for PHY126 adopted from fall 2006 (Prof. C. McGrew)