Many of you are probably wondering at this point: did you study? How is it possible for this to happen if you studied?

The irony (and the reason why I wanted to laugh, rather than cry) was: I really, legitimately, seriously prepared for the exam. I went to every lecture. I took notes in the lectures. I went to the review session. I did the current and old problem sets. I practiced with old exams. Heck - I even got over a 80% on the 2007 Fall 7.06 Exam 2.

Yet, this exam had none of the popular test topics on it. Everything was new. The fact that the test is open-book and open-notes didn't help either (I should have mentioned this earlier, but yeah, you get access to everything you have except anything electronic on the 7.06 exams. Trust me, this doesn't make the exam any easier).

So sometimes these things happen at MIT, because you are technically the "cream of the crop" and "tomorrow's scientists," so almost every exam (there are some exceptions in the intro classes) is a "thinking exam" here. Thinking exams are exams where you APPLY your knowledge from what you've studied in the textbook, what you've learned in lecture. Very rarely is there any direct "fact regurgitation" on the exams - in fact, upper-level exams in biology (such as 7.03, 7.05, and 7.06) either allows you to take in "cheat sheets" or simply make the exam open-book. In the words of the 7.06 professor (who, incidentally, is my biology adviser =/), the book only serves as a resource if you need to look up a certain protein or the steps to a certain pathway, but it's not going to help you in your thinking because the scenario presented or the data you're asked to analyze on the test will not be in the textbook.