General discussion

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Adventure Temple Trail
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General discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Post your general (i.e. not question-specific) thoughts about the BHSAT 2014 set here. I don't want to give my full thought process or share my own feelings about this set right now, in part because it's still being revised as we go for future mirrors and in part because I'd rather hear from other people first about what mattered to them. If we need to start somewhere: some general things which might be worth talking about include the overall difficulty of the set, how the editorial philosophy and tone of the questions came across to teams, and the execution of mixed_pure_academic questions. That said, go ahead with free rein on whatever you want to bring up.
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Re: General discussion

Post by samus149 »

The tossups were about what I expected from a housewrite (sort of a few more difficult parts thrown into the beginning leading into a regular difficulty, NAQT length question), though the leadins weren't so hard that I couldn't firstline a couple of things, and the lit questions rewarded people who actually read the books.

I also liked the little bits of humor dropped into the bonus parts (cray cray, the blindness question, etc.). It never got in the way of us actually knowing what was being asked about. The trash was great, aside from the deplorable presence of sports questions, and none of the common link/mixed_pure_academic tossups seemed too out there.

As for bad things, I'm not entirely sure what difficulty the tournament was aiming for (I heard both "regular" and "harder than regular"), but if it was indeed supposed to be harder than regular, the bonus difficulty was right on mark. If not, definitely too hard. Also proofreading became a legitimate issue on one or two questions, but I guess that'll be fixed for future iterations.

EDIT: Also not that big a fan of the many "science instruments" bonuses
Last edited by samus149 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Northern Central Railway »

samus149 wrote: As for bad things, I'm not entirely sure what difficulty the tournament was aiming for (I heard both "regular" and "harder than regular"), but if it was indeed supposed to be harder than regular, the bonus difficulty was right on mark. If not, definitely too hard. Also proofreading became a legitimate issue on one or two questions, but I guess that'll be fixed for future iterations.
To add a mathematical element to Sean's assertion about bonus difficulty, taking into account all the assumptions regarding this admittedly haphazard method of statistical analysis, here's the PPB of teams that had the same lineup at Penn's QuAC using HSAPQ's regular season set which is already a little harder than an IS set according to the Morlan rankings compared to BHSAT PPB:

High Tech A: 25.78 at Penn, 24.13 at BHSAT, difference of 1.65
St. Joseph A: 24.79 at Penn, 22.71 at BHSAT, difference of 2.08
High Tech B: 20.99 at Penn, 18.85 at BHSAT, difference of 2.14
Mountain Lakes A: 20.43 at Penn, 18.38 at BHSAT, difference of 2.05
St. Joseph B: 15.46 at Penn, 13.07 at BHSAT, difference of 2.39

These teams vary from "right at average" to "probably top 10 in the nation", so while it may be better to see the change from teams below the mean from a statistical standpoint, I don't think this degree of difference can be ignored.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

samus149 wrote:I'm not entirely sure what difficulty the tournament was aiming for (I heard both "regular" and "harder than regular"), but if it was indeed supposed to be harder than regular, the bonus difficulty was right on mark. If not, definitely too hard.
Just to clarify: When writing this set, our aim was not to create a regular set of the same difficulty as an NAQT IS-set or HSAPQ tournament set. Our aim was to create a set in line with the past three BHSATs, for which the descriptor "moderately challenging" is the best succint phrase I can come up with. That said, it seems clear from the numbers Andrew highlighted that there were many patches in the 2014 set which overshot the 2011-13 difficulty, often significantly. Over the next two weeks, we will be going through the trouble spots to try and bring most of the difficulty outliers in line with the 2011-13 vision of the set. I noted many of these while I read the set yesterday, but I welcome particular suggestions in the specific question discussion thread.
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Re: General discussion

Post by adamsil »

I thought this set was pretty good. Certainly, it was harder than normal HS difficulty. I don't think more than one GA team broke 20 PPB, though we were missing a few of the usual suspects like Chattahoochee. That's okay--but I was expecting somewhat easier.

My only major general complaints were science-related. I was underwhelmed by the chemistry: there was a heavy focus on things like scientific instruments or lab techniques, and less on actual chemistry. That glass tossup was classified as chemistry, I'm pretty sure. It wasn't. Then there were questions on things like anodes, which would have been much better served by a question on oxidations. (In fact, you can write a HS level tossup on oxidations without mentioning organic chemistry things. It is possible!) Yes, I whine a lot about HS chemistry, and it's certainly better than NAQT tossups on germanium or what-have-you, but there was room for improvement. The physics and math, on the other hand, slanted pretty hard in my opinion. I'm no electrical engineer, but a bonus part on HVDC? It seems a lot harder than a tossup on boiling points that mentions distillation in the third line. I had the impression that a lot of the chemistry questions got intruded upon by physics clues, too. The common link tossup on "dots" is a good example. Or the one on ideal gases, which talked about blackbody radiation, if I remember correctly.

I loved the computation parts on stuff like calculating equivalent capacitance, or predicting which way an equilibrium shifts, or knowing the functional dependence of Stokes' Law (though this was pretty tough). Keep 'em coming.

In the lit, I would've liked less asking people for "The Betrothed", more asking about books that people have a fighting chance of having heard of/read in high school, but that's just my opinion. I didn't think the lit was bad, but it seemed like it was written with some different, competing, editing philosophies in mind.

My only other general comment was that it felt like there was a lot of Bach in the music in the early rounds. He never got directly asked about, but there must have been Bach clues in every music question in rounds 1-3. Perhaps I'm just crazy.

As always, I enjoyed the mixed academic questions and most of the common links, but stick to concrete items like "pearls" or "contracts" or "bears" in common links, because things get dicey when you start venturing into "guess what the author of this question thinks all these things have in common'-land.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Excelsior (smack) »

My only major general complaints were science-related. I was underwhelmed by the chemistry: there was a heavy focus on things like scientific instruments or lab techniques, and less on actual chemistry. That glass tossup was classified as chemistry, I'm pretty sure. It wasn't. Then there were questions on things like anodes, which would have been much better served by a question on oxidations. (In fact, you can write a HS level tossup on oxidations without mentioning organic chemistry things. It is possible!) Yes, I whine a lot about HS chemistry, and it's certainly better than NAQT tossups on germanium or what-have-you, but there was room for improvement.
All fair criticisms. Frankly, I should not really be editing high school chemistry (and never will be again) because I have no idea what, if anything, high schoolers know about chemistry. If you wouldn't mind, could you perhaps suggest a topic or two that you think would have made a good tossup answerline that the set didn't address? I'm kind of out of the loop as far as what high school sets have looked like over the past 3-4 years, so I don't really have a good sense of how people manage to fill out a chemistry distribution these days.
The physics and math, on the other hand, slanted pretty hard in my opinion. I'm no electrical engineer, but a bonus part on HVDC? It seems a lot harder than a tossup on boiling points that mentions distillation in the third line.
This might be the case in general, though in the particular case of HVDC, I figured that was a thing people might have heard of in the news more than in a strictly "science" context.
I had the impression that a lot of the chemistry questions got intruded upon by physics clues, too. The common link tossup on "dots" is a good example. Or the one on ideal gases, which talked about blackbody radiation, if I remember correctly.
This is also true and my fault, again because I have no idea how to write 15/15 chemistry for high schoolers, so I was kind of struggling for clues towards the end.
I loved the computation parts on stuff like calculating equivalent capacitance, or predicting which way an equilibrium shifts, or knowing the functional dependence of Stokes' Law (though this was pretty tough). Keep 'em coming.
Cool, thanks for the feedback. Did you find that teams at your site generally had a good reaction to these parts?

(I will address the points you made in the question-specific thread once certain... more pressing... things are done with.)
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Re: General discussion

Post by adamsil »

I can't write physics for high school, apparently, so kudos to you for writing some good physics questions for this level (I also thought the astronomy was good). As far as chemistry goes, questions on elements, if done correctly, work well. So do tossups on common compounds (ammonia, CO2, etc. etc.) . Those are two things that you seemed to avoid asking about, for whatever reason; they usually fill around a third to a half of the chemistry questions I write for normal difficulty HS.

I don't know if teams liked the "computation" based questions--they generally didn't know the answers, but that was also a function of teams not knowing basic physics, and they nearly universally exclaimed, "I probably should have known that" or something along those lines.

And yeah, there's other pressing tournaments coming up that I should be working on as well. ;)
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Re: General discussion

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis »

Overall, I thought this set was very well-written, except for the criticisms brought forth by other writers, and except for the bonuses of the first four rounds. I may be cherrypicking memories, but I felt that they were very frustrating to play, with bonus parts on the Karpass Peninsula (I think the donkey is less famous than what the bonus made it to be), Northeast Corridor, and positive train controllers coming to mind (for the last two, which one was the medium part, and which teams outside of the northeastern states have a legitimate chance of getting the Northeast Corridor?). Stuff like the bonus part on "vowels", which either could be made clearer (or could've been read clearer by the moderator; I don't have the question with me) and being a little too coy on easy and medium parts were definitely part of that experience (and also in the rest of the rounds).
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Re: General discussion

Post by vinteuil »

adamsil wrote: In the lit, I would've liked less asking people for "The Betrothed", more asking about books that people have a fighting chance of having heard of/read in high school, but that's just my opinion. I didn't think the lit was bad, but it seemed like it was written with some different, competing, editing philosophies in mind.

My only other general comment was that it felt like there was a lot of Bach in the music in the early rounds. He never got directly asked about, but there must have been Bach clues in every music question in rounds 1-3. Perhaps I'm just crazy.
Both of these are my fault. I'll probably try to keep the amount of lit like that to a minimum in the future (although I think this philosophy is only really present in the Trollope and Betrothed bonus parts?).

Bach: I'm going to echo Charlie Dees's philosophy about music questions Missouri Open: some composers are more important than others, especially in high school. I think more high school students have a chance of having played the Bach double concerto, fifth cello suite, etc. than most other pieces in the canon. That said, they should definitely be a lot more spread out than that, and we'll probably move some questions around.

(full disclosure: yeah I really like Bach)
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Re: General discussion

Post by pleasewalkforward »

Christ, I Know wrote:with bonus parts on the Karpass Peninsula (I think the donkey is less famous than what the bonus made it to be)
Replacing Northern Cyprus with Cyprus as the middle part, I figured the bonus had been toned down enough to merit what was admittedly one of the harder geography hard parts. Will rethink this going forward.
Christ, I Know wrote:Northeast Corridor, and positive train controllers coming to mind (for the last two, which one was the medium part, and which teams outside of the northeastern states have a legitimate chance of getting the Northeast Corridor?)
The former was the middle part. Your criticism about only Northeast teams getting it is valid (though a problem somewhat unavoidable in U.S. geography/current events if significant regions/regional events are to be asked about). I will note that it's the most well-known and important train line in the nation and serves an area of 50 million.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis »

Christ, I Know wrote:Northeast Corridor, and positive train controllers coming to mind (for the last two, which one was the medium part, and which teams outside of the northeastern states have a legitimate chance of getting the Northeast Corridor?)
The former was the middle part. Your criticism about only Northeast teams getting it is valid (though a problem somewhat unavoidable in U.S. geography/current events if significant regions/regional events are to be asked about). I will note that it's the most well-known and important train line in the nation and serves an area of 50 million.
It may be well-known and important enough in the 50-million strong Northeast megalopolis for it to be a medium part for the audience of a tournament there, but I highly doubt that someone in, say, Oregon or Minnesota would be as familiar with it. It is a train station line after all, and unlike the Golden Gate Bridge or Grand Coulee Dam, exposure to it would decrease significantly beyond immediate contact/use or living in the vicinity.
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Re: General discussion

Post by pleasewalkforward »

Fair point. Will tone done.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

I enjoyed this set a lot, thanks for writing! However, there were some flaws with this set I thought, particularly revolving around difficulty in bonus parts. To start:
Matt Jackson in the other thread said these were changed for the 2/15 sites wrote:Packet 5:
-Rilke/Orpheus/Duino Elegies became Rilke/Orpheus/angels
Packet 8
“Mr. Bulstrode” bonus part in the Middlemarch bonus replaced with “The Key to All Mythologies”
Packet 9
-“Circassian cheese” bonus part replaced with “Caucasus mountains”
These were not changed for our site at Solon High School in Ohio.
Last edited by Sniper, No Sniping! on Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Mr. Scogan wrote:stuff about changes
Solon abruptly requested that we immediately send them the set several days early, before we were able to make many of the changes that went through for the other 2/15 sites. Apologies if this caused any trouble.

Would you mind making a post in the "specific question discussion" thread and moving your specific question comments there just so all of those are in one place? Thanks.
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Re: General discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

A couple general thoughts:

1) It seemed like every single bonus part had to have an extra clause with the point of further education. I like these to a point, but it really was overdone.

2) There was a bunch of weird clue ordering in tossups, where I felt like a giveaway-level clue was in the 2nd to 4th line, and then promptly followed by a clue significantly harder.

3) Seriously, I can't complain enough about the fact that questions were split over two pages. Since we ran a tournament on paper so we could give every team the set, this was awful.
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Re: General discussion

Post by vinteuil »

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:A couple general thoughts:

1) It seemed like every single bonus part had to have an extra clause with the point of further education. I like these to a point, but it really was overdone.

2) There was a bunch of weird clue ordering in tossups, where I felt like a giveaway-level clue was in the 2nd to 4th line, and then promptly followed by a clue significantly harder.
Could you give some particularly egregious examples of these?
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Re: General discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

The former was definitely a cumulative issue. I'll go through the set as much as I can in the next week.
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Re: General discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron »

Could someone e-mail me a copy of the set? (isaac(@)kirk-davidoff.net)
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Re: General discussion

Post by something random! »

vinteuil wrote:
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:A couple general thoughts:

2) There was a bunch of weird clue ordering in tossups, where I felt like a giveaway-level clue was in the 2nd to 4th line, and then promptly followed by a clue significantly harder.
Could you give some particularly egregious examples of these?


The Game Theory tossup seemed to fall into this category if I remember correctly
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Re: General discussion

Post by vinteuil »

something random! wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:A couple general thoughts:

2) There was a bunch of weird clue ordering in tossups, where I felt like a giveaway-level clue was in the 2nd to 4th line, and then promptly followed by a clue significantly harder.
Could you give some particularly egregious examples of these?


The Game Theory tossup seemed to fall into this category if I remember correctly
10. In this field of mathematics, a certain class of "perfect equilibria" is commonly derived using the technique of backwards induction. "Tit-for-tat" has proven surprisingly effective as a solution to "iterated" objects studied in this field, which was originated by von Neumann. Objects of study in this field that have only Pareto-optimal solutions are called "zero-sum". A famous object of study in this field involves two agents who may choose to cooperate with one another or to defect; that situation features one Nash equilibrium. For 10 points, name this mathematical field that studies decision-making in namesake situations, using situations like the prisoner's dilemma as a model.
ANSWER: game theory [accept decision theory until "decision-making"; prompt on "economics"; prompt on "mathematics"]
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