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# Math Placement Test Without a Calculator?

## Replies to: Math Placement Test Without a Calculator?

• Registered User Posts: 16,063 Senior Member
Another caution on the "take the communitiy college course and then retake the test" suggestion. At the college I work at, they don't allow a retake; once you flunk, you're in the developmental course. No redos.

the one exception is that they offer a free brush up course the summer before classes start. if the student is willing to show up for a shorter course at that time (some are still in HS when they come here in the evenings for the class), they then can retake and be re-placed in math. If they start in the first session, they can keep taking it till they pass or run out of summer. Since most of our students are in commuting distance, it's a really good opportunity.
• Registered User Posts: 794 Member
Part of the problem, as I see it, is that math classes don't go back and review concepts from earlier years. Those of you who remember are lucky. If I thought my daughter would learn all the basics she's forgotten, or how to do problems without a calculator, I'd be more than thrilled to have her take a remedial class. I just don't see it happening. The name of the "remedial" class is Elementary Algebra 2.

It's not a matter of concept or method. (I've never even heard of Newton's method.) Squares and square roots are very simple concepts, and I'm sure your daughter knows what they are. It's a matter of mathematical reasoning: 95 is between 9^2=81 and 10^2=100. Therefore, the number that you would square to get 95 is between 9 and 10. Logic.

A lot of high school math seems like an attempt to impart this kind of logic on the students--figuring out how to manipulate equations so you can solve them--but I don't think it works very well. Kids tend to memorize: they look for the formula, the method that will allow them to solve a specific type of problem. If they don't remember the method or the problem is unfamiliar to them, they just give up. (Someone with good mathematical logic, on the other hand, can use what they know about the properties of the numbers and operations to find their own method of solving the problem.) To them, it doesn't really matter--they can pass their tests just fine--but memorization is fleeting.
• Registered User Posts: 267 Junior Member
im a student... but for the ap calculus bc test half of our test was non calculator.

so i think the college was right in making the test non calculator.
all questions could be done without a calculator.
• Registered User Posts: 22,762 Senior Member
UIUC's NetMath program (undergraduate math courses like Calc 1, 2, 3, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Probability) uses Mathematica, a sophisticated Computer Algebra System. You get your lessons and do your homework from within Mathematica. So you have a tool that can do just about anything you want in math. It is also a wonderful tool for exploration. You might think that it would be easy to do these math courses with powerful tools and you might think that the student wouldn't learn anything but I was pretty surprised at how effective they are at promoting student learning.
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