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I have finished three years undergraduate course in maths in the UK and I am applying to do an MSc in maths.

The academic year was 26 weeks long and split into 2 semesters of equal length. we had exams at the end of each semester.This is fine but in each module, we were also given one, in some cases 2, assignments from each module. This meant that we were being examined every 3 weeks.

I think that this is wrong and that when studying maths, people should be given the opportunity to learn at their own pace and that the onslaught of assignments does not help. I feel I could have done so much better with just having the single exams at the end of the semester because it takes me so long to get my head around mathematical concepts.

My question:

If I state this on my personal statement, would it work in my favour, or would it make me look really stupid, slow and someone who is disorganized?

Looking at the majority of courses for masters, they only have a single exam which should work in my favour.

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    "I think that this is wrong and that when studying maths, people should be given the opportunity to learn at their own pace and that the onslaught of assignments does not help". Personal opinions about how any subject should be taught are irrelevant to anyone else but you. Why do you expect that stating such an opinion would work in your favor? – Alexandros Jul 5 '15 at 12:28
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    " I feel I could have done so much better with just having the single exams at the end of the semester because it takes me so long to get my head around mathematical concepts." - you may want to consider relocating elsewhere. For instance, this is exactly the system I found in France (in 1999, things may have changed since then). I couldn't deal with it at all. – Stephan Kolassa Jul 5 '15 at 12:37
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    @StephanKolassa: yes, it's the same system we have in Italy: no homework (I give homework to my students but is optional and doesn't count for the exam) and just one final exam. It worked perfectly for me, I wouldn't have liked the "continuous" grading system. – Massimo Ortolano Jul 5 '15 at 13:20
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    Hmm, but what percentage do these module assignments count for? In my experience they only count for a small amount e.g. %10-15, and the majority comes from the end of module exam. The assignment questions are rehashed from the exercise sheets. They are just to motivate you to spend a few hours with the exercises. To be honest you might come across as making excuses. – P.Windridge Jul 5 '15 at 16:50
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    Also I think that even MSc courses are starting to involve regular assessment, are you sure about "the majority of courses for masters [...] only have a single exam" ? – P.Windridge Jul 5 '15 at 16:51
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[Note: I'm coming at this question as a professor in the American university system. As such, there may be a few implicit assumptions below that don't quite apply to the UK system, for which I apologize in advance.]

The short answer is no; putting something like this on your personal statement (at least the way you're framing it above) is likely to hurt you more than it will help you. First, it cannot help but sound like a rationalization for poor performance; you're essentially saying, "I got a D, but I'm sure if the course had been taught correctly I would have gotten an A." The problem with a statement like this is that it's your word about a hypothetical course versus the actual grade that you earned in the real-live course. An admissions committee is going to weigh the latter much, much more than the former. Also, the way you're phrasing it could be read a moral judgment that you really don't want to be proclaiming in a statement like this. (i.e., this method is "wrong", and it "should be done" a different way.)

The best way (in my opinion) to address poor grades in undergraduate courses is to frame them as learning experiences. What did you learn about the way you work? If you had to take the exact same course over again, what would you do differently? What you want to do is to take responsibility for your failures, show self-awareness about your weaknesses, and demonstrate that you know how to work around them in tough situations. These things are all signs of maturity, whereas a statement that effectively says "it wasn't my fault" is a bit lacking in that department.

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    Couldn't resist adding a relevant quote: "A man may fall many times, but he isn't a failure until he says somebody pushed him". – 299792458 Jul 6 '15 at 4:19

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