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AST 309L · Search for Extraterrestrial Life    1   2   3   4   5  

Grading: 100% of your grade will be based on five exams, roughly one every five class periods. All exams will be weighted equally except that your lowest exam score will only receive a weight of 1/2 compared to the others. So you have to take all the exams, but if you have an off day (or week, etc.) it won't hurt your final grade too much. The topics and dates of the exams (tentative--any changes will be announced heavily in class and at the class website) are listed below. There will be no comprehensive final. The exams will consist almost entirely of multiple choice questions, depending on class size. I will try to prepare you for the nature of the exam questions by occasionally giving sample questions during lectures, by trying to point out the types of information that I expect you to understand or remember, and giving examples on review sheets.

mars In case of medical or other non-academic emergencies or situations, contact me as early as possible--it will usually be possible for you to take an exam a day or so early or late in these cases (but not for academic reasons).

We will try to get exam grades available to you through the UT e-Gradebook system within one, or at most two days of the time of the exam. Often you should be able to get your exam grades on the same day (or evening) as you take the exam.

Final grades are assigned on the basis of A=87-100, B=78-86.9, C=67-77.9, D=55-66.9, F<55.

Homework: The homework in this class will be ungraded except in the sense that references to it will appear on each exam in the form of a few exam questions. Usually once per week I will send out class email containing one or more questions relating to the topic we are covering. You should try to answer these (for yourself, not to me) within a day or two of receipt of the email. Most of these questions will be basic and fairly easy, and serve the purpose of having you keep up with the reading and lectures (lagging on these is the most common cause of grade decline in this class); many will involve searching the internet concerning developments too recent to be covered in your text (e.g. some recent developments in Mars and Titan missions). These questions will be much more difficult to answer if you wait until just before the exam--it will take you longer to dig up the answers during a time when you should be just studying for the exam. I will always insert exam questions that directly test whether you know the answers to these questions--that is how you will be "graded" on these homework questions.

Another continuing assignment will be to subscribe to and look at the astrobiology "news" reports at I will include 1-3 questions on these "news stories" on each exam.

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26 August 2008
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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