So the first week at a new grad school comes with it the orientation for that program. Every program is different, and every subject is different too; however in the world of chemistry, orientation week means entrance exams. This is a series of 4 to 5 tests that are given to the incoming class to gauge what they know, and what classes they need to take to become a proficient scientist. I would like to note that you only need to take 6 classes in a chemistry grad program, as the rest of the degree is research based.
So why are these exams such a big deal? Well, having moved into the city just a few days before, just trying to cope with finding the right building is hard enough. But add to that some seriously hard tests that will determine what classes you have to take, and where the faculty thinks you stand as a scientist. That makes for some stressful tests, not to mention that there is no real way to study for them. They are about 2 hours long a piece and put out by the American Chemical Society, which has fairly high standards for what you should be able to remember right off the top of your head.
Well I have been here in my new school for all of 4 days now, and have survived all 4 of the tests that I was asked to take. I passed all but one, which I just barely didn’t make my marks on, and will find out today how that will affect my class load. However I have been asking around and no one else’s program is making them take tests on their first week! Well at least that part is over.