After a somewhat frustrating final last night, and finishing a project write up this morning, I have successfully finished my my inaugural semester of grad school. I have to say, the difficulty level reminds me somewhat more of the higher level undergraduate physics classes, at least in the kind of questions that are asked. They are more about applying what you’ve learned to to related ideas, proving theorems, and generally doing things you haven’t considered before, rather than algebraically manipulating problems into forms you’ve already worked out in homework and in-class examples.
On a somewhat related note: part of me wonders how professors come up with some of these test questions. Granted, they have years of experience in whatever field they’re teaching, and they’ve been working on some pretty wacky problems. But do they think at some point in their career, “Hey, this requires an interesting application of the (insert name here) theorem. That would be an awesome exam question.” I’d be really curious what their thought process is, especially if I’m supposed to be doing it some day.