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(a) What is a collection?
(b) What is the purpose of collections?
(c) My collection has come back covered with Greek letters further confused with plus and minus signs. What on earth do they all mean?
(c) My collection has come back covered with Greek letters further confused with plus and minus signs. What on earth do they all mean?It will presumably be obvious to you that an alpha is better than a beta which is better than a gamma, but it is quite possible to be mystified by the finer nuances of the Oxford marking system until and unless it is explained, so that the marks awarded on a collection do not in fact convey to the student all that the tutor wished to convey. For example, to the uninitiated, an alpha double-minus might look like a double detraction from a respectable alpha (whereas it is, in fact, an excellent mark) whereas a beta-alpha might look like a curiously roundabout way of writing beta triple plus, or of equivocating between the beta and alpha grades.
None of this made any sense to me until it was explained by one of my tutors in terms of what was necessary in order to gain a first in finals. (This may not be your expectation, but it may nevertheless help you grasp the principles of the marking scheme a little more clearly). To obtain a first in Theology, I was once told (other subjects may well be different, please note), it is necessary to obtain two and half alphas (on nine papers). Naturally, I wondered what half an alpha might be. Apparently a "pure" alpha is an alpha followed by one or more minuses (in practice alpha-minus seems to be the highest grade ever awarded in Public Examinations) but no other Greek letter. This counts as one alpha. An alpha-beta then counts as one half of an alpha, whilst a beta-alpha counts as a third. Anything else beginning with beta doesn't contribute to the alpha-count, but anything beginning with a gamma counts as minus one alpha. Anything beginning with alpha (down to and including alpha-beta) is described as a "leading alpha" mark and is very good. Beta seems to be about the "average" mark, so that a beta followed by pluses or by an alpha is still fairly good (i.e. a beta-plus is respectable whereas a beta-alpha is really pretty good). I am sure I can now leave you to work out the significance of a beta followed by minuses or of anything beginning with gamma. If you see a leading-delta mark on your paper then you really are heading for trouble - I might almost say that you would then have hit rock-bottom had I not read in one examiner's report of a candidate whose efforts were so awful that the examiner had felt obliged to think in terms of an epsilon. It must have taken considerable ingenuity to produce something as bad as that!
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|Last Updated by Eric Eve on 04-Oct-00|