And, you’re done (with VCE maths). We hope it went well.
Well, that was a surprising surprise. After the first three exams, we were starting to mull over a “VCAA has improved” post. Yes, the first three exams contained a few minor but still annoying errors, generally absurd modelling and plenty of CAS crap and very bad wording, but overall the exams were significantly more coherent and less marred by error than previous years’. So, although Specialist Exam 2 was always a greater danger than Exam 1, we were expecting more of the improved same. But, no.
The Specialist Exam 2 is a mess. Apart from the serious errors noted by commenters, many other questions are very bad. A number of questions are just way, way too cute, and some of the wording is appalling. More so than the other exams, Specialist Exam 2 feels as it were a rushed, last minute submission, that even VCAA’s traditional semidemi-vetting had not been applied.
Thanks to all the commenters. Here are our question by question thoughts. As with the previous exams, we won’t comment on poor wording unless it amounts to error, or something close.
MCQ 1. A good absolute value question. Very easy by hand, but presumably a number of students will waste time using CAS.
MCQ 2. A nice trig question. It should be routine by hand, but for current students is probably not.
MCQ 3. An OK asymptotes question. The possibility of cancelling is clear enough that the question seems fair (and is a repeat of such a question, from a previous year).
MCQ 5. A very easy complex argument question, although students seem to find these difficult.
MCQ 6. A nice complex graph question, although it somewhat repeats MCQ 5. A fair amount of work unless you’re quick on complex geometry (which students are not).
MCQ 7. An OK integration by substitution question, although very easy just by looking at the limits and noting the integrand is positive.
MCQ 8. A typically annoying slope field (not “direction field”) question. Forcing students to decide whether a crappy little segment has slope a bit greater or a bit less than 1 is stupid and nasty.
MCQ 9. A very weird inverse Euler’s method question. Too cute, and if you’re going to do cute, don’t do it with not-at-all-cute decimals. A bad question.
MCQ 10. A very bad implicit differentiation question. Not well structured and over-egged. It’s absurd to require work or a graph to determine the effect of the ± in the expression -1 ± √11.
MCQ 11. A routine linear dependence question.
MCQ 12. A nice dot product and trig question.
MCQ 13. A trivial vector kinematics question.
MCQ 14. A very nice but too subtle SUVAT question. Would be much, much better asked purely algebraically as a short answer question (and probably better in Specialist Year 11).
MCQ 15. A too clever inclined plane question. Yes, the answer is immediate using F = ma, but a knee-jerk assumption that the acceleration is along the plane makes one of the distractors unfairly distracting. We’re betting plenty of students will answer C, and we think such students will be right to feel tricked.
MCQ 16. An easy triangle of forces question.
MCQ 17. Another SUVAT question? What’s the point? Much easier than MCQ 14, and so at least the two questions should have been interchanged.
MCQ 18. Stats crap. I don’t do stats crap. Especially to four meaningless decimal places.
MCQ 19. As commenters have noted, the question is stuffed, and pointless. Obtaining a confidence interval requires a sample mean, not the population mean that has been provided. (10/11/22 We decided this question is worth its own WitCH, here.)
MCQ 20. In principle a nice question, but it doesn’t work. Students should not be required to read an essay before answering a multiple choice question.
Q1. An aimless but OK graphing question. Part (d), with the absolute value and three intersection points, is too cute.
Q2. A very nice complex numbers question.
Q3. A very bad differential equations question. Mostly it is absurd but routine, but the wording for (d) and (e) is so clumsy and opaque as to be seriously misleading. Why has the particle “passed through” O at t = 0? Just have the damn thing begin its thoroughly implausible motion at t = 0. And why then have the second particle begin two seconds after the first? You’ve given the second particle’s position at any time t, so why say anything else? Why refer in part (e) to “when” the particles are at the same distance from O, given you’ve already told students in part (d) to confirm the explicit time at which this occurs?
In principle, part (e) is a nice chain rule application, but, as with MCQ 14, such a question would be much better set in a purely algebraic setting. As it is, any niceness has been swamped by the setting and the appalling wording. Also, and amusingly, the very specific required form of the answer to part (e) suggests the writer reads this blog. They’ve missed the point of the criticism, however: the point is not to (correctly) ask for answers in a unique form, the point is to (re)establish a culture where a reasonable form of the final answer can simply be presumed to be part of the question. But in any case, there’s way, way more to worry about in Q3 than the final form of any answer.
Q4. Similar to Q3, this question is routine, just a little silly. Part (a) explicitly uses degrees and implicitly uses radians; it probably won’t confuse anyone too much, but it’s not great. The big problem, as commenters have noted, is that Part (d) is very badly ambiguous. In asking “how far does the ball travel”, it seems likely the question is referring to arc length, but it is also reasonable to interpret it as referring to the straight-line distance from starting point to finish point. We’re betting more than a few students will have done this, and they should be eligible for full marks (and thereby penalising those students who spent more time computing the more difficult arc length).
Q5. An OK and easy forces question. A lot of SUVAT, given we’ve already had two multiple choice SUVAT questions.
Q6. Stats crap. I don’t do stats crap. But as commenters have noted, and see here, part
(e) (f) is stuffed stats crap.