FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about the Testing Experience in Mathematics
by David Katz
Instructor at Collin Co. Community College & North Lake College
Table of Contents
Where do I go to take a test?
All tests for my classes are given in the Testing Center. Please call the Testing Center for exact hours. While there is no time limit for each exam, allow about 2 hours to complete each exam.
What do I bring to the Testing Center?
Bring student ID, pencils, calculator, Scantron (for multiple-choice tests), formula card (for statistics students only). Note: the Testing Center provides the scratch paper for you to show your work.
Will the Testing Center clear my calculator's memory?
Yes, if you do not wish the Testing Center to handle your calculator in any way, you may borrow a calculator from the Testing Center for use during your test. Return to top of page.
Where do I get a formula card?
Statistics students may bring an official formula card to the Testing Center for use during exams. If you do not have one, you may print a formula card out at this website:
What do I tell the Testing Center staff when I arrive to take my test?
You need to tell them my last name (Katz), the course in which you are taking the test (e.g., MATH 1414, 1342, etc.), and which exam you want to take (e.g., Test #1, Chapters 1-3 Exam, etc.).
May I write on the exam questions?
No, please write all work and answers on your scratch paper and/or Scantron. Do not write on the exam questions. Return to top of page.
Each exam has a form letter, what is that for?
Please make sure you or the Testing Center staff write the test form letter (found on the top of each exam) on your scratch paper and/or Scantron. The form letter tells me what answer key to use.
Do I need to show my work?
Yes, you should always show your work on a math exam. Please show your work neatly on the scratch paper provided by the Testing Center. Even if you work out a solution on your calculator, write down what you did on your calculator. When in doubt - show your work!
Why show your work to each question?
I review the solution steps you give to each test question to award partial credit when you answer a question wrong. If you do not show your work, you will not get any partial credit. Also, by writing down neatly and carefully what you were trying to solve and how you tried to solve a question, you are creating an excellent study guide for the final exam! I return the work you do for each exam later in the semester to help you study for the comprehensive final exam. Return to top of page.
Should I check each solution?
Yes, why not leave the test 100% sure your answers are correct? As time permits, include the "check" method along with your other test work. Consider the following methods when checking your work:
Re-work the problem by hand
Try an alternative solution method
Avoid solutions that are not sensible (e.g., the volume of this cola can is 1000 kg)
Verify the solution in the original equation(s) or inequality(s)
Use your calculator to compute the answer and/or check arithmetic.
How do I prepare for an exam?
Start by correctly answering all or most of your homework. Most of your test questions are based on homework questions from your textbook.
Come to class! I discuss in class which homework problems will be important for the exams.
Make a set of flash cards by copying 30-40 homework questions onto index cards. Shuffle the cards and deal your self 10 questions for a practice test. Remember that your test questions will not come in the same order as they appear in your textbook, so shuffle that deck well to prepare for a question to come in any order on your test.
Try some of the on-line tutorials and practice tests. If you have access to MyMathLab, this on-line resource includes practice tests. Other on-line tutorials are available at this link on my webpage: Math Tutorials.
Come to the test knowing how to check each type of problem - either by hand with an alternative solution method or by a calculator method
Is there an exam review packet?
No, I usually do not give out review packets or review worksheets. I am big believer that the exam should reflect the homework you have been assigned. In the past, some students simply worked through the review packet at the expense of their homework, and as a consequence, did not score well on their exams. Return to top of page.
May I discuss my exam solutions and answers with other students?
No, doing so gives other students an unfair advantage on the exam. Remember exams are meant to be solo work to test how well you work alone - not with other students. Return to top of page.
Is there a deadline for each exam at the Testing Center?
Yes, all exams must be completed the week before final exams. I strongly encourage all students to complete an exam within a week after finishing our review lesson in class. Waiting longer to take an exam is counter-productive because you may get behind on other lessons. Your class schedule gives the recommended due dates for each exam. Return to top of page.
How do I find out my exam grade?
You may speak with me during or after class to talk about your exam grade. I also post exam grades through a secure, on-line system such as WebCT or eCampus. According to the new student privacy laws (aka FERPA laws), I am not allowed to give out grades over the phone or through e-mail.
How much does each exam question worth?
Each question is usually worth the same number of points; the total number of points on each exam is 100. This formula means you should budget your time accordingly and not spend too much time on any one question. Return to top of page.
Is there a curve on the exam grade?
Sometimes - if the measures of a typical grade (mean score, median score) are less than 75, I usually curve or re-score the exams along a bell-curve. Return to top of page.
Is the lowest exam score dropped?
Within Collin County, I drop the lowest exam score.
Within Dallas County, I do not drop the lowest exam score. However, I do allow re-takes of exams (see below) in certain classes. In other classes, I replace the lowest exam score with the final exam score (if higher).. Return to top of page.
Can I re-take an exam?
Within Collin County, the answer is no. I am not allowed to give exam re-takes.
Within Dallas County, the answer is yes. If your exam score is below 70, I encourage you to take a re-test if available. The maximum score on a re-test is 70. Even if your score is close to 70, a re-test is a good idea - not just because the extra few points help your average. The additional practice can help shore up areas in which you are weak and leave you better prepared for the comprehensive final exam. Return to top of page.
What do I do to prepare for a re-test?
Talk to me first before attempting a re-test. I may ask you to do test corrections before trying the re-test. Re-tests are usually available for the first two or three exams in the semester. Re-tests are not allowed on the last one or two exams of the semesters because there is usually not time to take and grade them. Return to top of page.
Is the final exam required?
Yes, the final exam is comprehensive and is required of all students - regardless of how high or low your average is. The final exam is always held in the classroom and not in the Testing Center. Please make sure now you are available to take the final exam on the scheduled day in the calendar.
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