Precalculus Essay Test

As something to do while waiting for new advisees at our first summer registration event, I attempted to turn a typical precalculus exam into an essay test – no calculations, just words.  Actually also diagrams.  You can see it at the end of this post.

What I found out:

  • Students would have to read too much.
  • The exercise helped me clarify what I really wanted them to know and is therefore recommended.
  • Sometimes just doing the problem is sufficient evidence of understanding.
  • I am dependent on the unit circle model for explaining and understanding trig functions.  Many of the problems were really to see if the students really knew it.
  • The questions were somewhat labored since I was converting a standard test rather than starting from zero.
  • The questions demanded precise language – never a bad discipline.
  • Students have to be primed and practiced for such an exam.
  • The test will be hard to grade.  I would need explicit rubrics for each problem – something I do naturally on the standard tests.

Precalc Test

About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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