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Testing College: Credit by exam for pre-calculus

  1. Jan 25, 2010 #1
    In high school I had some issues with my geometry teacher in sophomore year and I ended up never taking any math courses so I ended up with twice as many science credits as math. Right now I'm going to college for the first time(this spring semester at a local community college) and classes start in three days... I asked the math department if I could be exempt from taking pre-calculus and they said I could take credits by examination.

    I've been studying a bit on my own and there are certain things I have a strong grasp of but since I've never taken an actual precalculus course I'm not sure what I must know for the credit by examination. I know my community college is very lenient with test scores so I only need around 55% proficiency but I'm still feeling a bit unsure.

    Some notes: I scored 96 on the math a regents, 94 on the geometry regents, and I scored 630 on the SAT math with no prior practice(scored 1810 composite). It's suffice to say, from my own observation, that I may perhaps be quite good at test taking but I'm not sure if that will be enough to take a test for a subject I never studied in school(mostly referring to the trigonometry part). Also, the grades I received in the first three years of highschool were horrible(average 72) because I was going to a far away magnet school, depression, etc. In my last year of highschool I transferred to a local high school and managed a 96 average easily. My depression has subsided but the academic pothole that is reminiscent from my bad days still haunts me.

    Should I take the credit by exam(it costs $15 to take the test, if I pass it equates to 3 math credits although I'm guessing most people come into college at least a year ahead relative to where I am in terms of mathematics[e.g people take precal sophmore year, AP calculus BC in junior year, and then senior year of highschool they take differential equations and etc]) or should I take a semester course of pre-calculus?

    As I said, this upcoming spring session(starts on the 28th) is going to be my first time in college and I wish to someday be a physics major. Money really isn't an issue for me so when I transfer I can go to any 4-year college I'm accepted into(my parents make over 200k a year). Also, if it is the case that my best plan of action is to take the credit by examination, what is most important for me to know? I ask this because I was told by the math department at my cc that this is the last week I can take the exam.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2010 #2
    Look at the various CUNY pre-calc syllabi. They're all pretty standard. CCNY pre-calc finals, and it looks like the same material my brother had to cover at Baruch when he took pre-calc. Call up your school and ask them.

    Since you want to be a physics major, it's better not to lose the time 'cause of it, 'cause not having calc's gonna hold up some courses.
  4. Jan 25, 2010 #3
    I'm actually going to Queensborough CC which is part of CCNY. I originally took the advanced math placement exam where I scored 92 on the college algebra half of the test but only 53 on the trigonometry half of the test(the cutoff was 55). I'm wondering: Should I expect the credit by exam to be similar? If so then I'm confident I can easily pass it since I've covered almost all the materials I saw on the placement exam that I was unfamiliar with.
    If not, anxiety galore. Either way, I'm trying to spend the rest of today and tomorrow and part of Wednesday to prepare for the credit by exam.

    These were the topics listed:
    Couldn't I take a chemistry honors course in its place for the time being(in the case I don't pass the credit by exam and thus don't place for calculus 1 but instead must take pre-calculus). Also, couldn't I make up for the time over a summer session?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  5. Jan 25, 2010 #4
    Various friends parents teach there, but not math or science. Though it's part of CUNY, not CCNY (which is also a part of CUNY.)

    I'm kind of curious if we went to the same high school.

    I figure it's gonna be on the topics listed, which sound standard for pre-calc and match what I'm seeing at the other CUNYs I looked at (Brooklyn and Lehman)

    Both sound sensible, and most physics curriculum are timed so that you take calculus your first semester coming in, so I figure as long as you meld to that schedule, you should be fine.
  6. Jan 25, 2010 #5
    What high school did you go to?
    It's what I've been trying to do for the past few days.

    Well here are my options:
    Don't pass credit by exam: I take pre-calculus + chemistry honors or similar non-calculus based science course this spring semester.

    Pass credit by exam: I take calculus 1 + calcphysics 1 this spring semester.
  7. Jan 25, 2010 #6
    Do you know which four year you want to transfer to yet? Both course set ups sound good, but some schools won't count physics for transfer credit if you're majoring in it. (This isn't an issue at other CUNY schools far as I know, but you want an expensive school.)
  8. Jan 25, 2010 #7
    Well, I was thinking about transferring to Queens College after one semester here at Queens borough... I know there's credit transfer issues all across the board but I plan to be in school for a while...

    This is what I see ahead of me:
    4 years of undergrad
    2 years for masters
    4 years for ph.d coursework
    1-? years for dissertation.
    I figure the minimum amount of time I'll be in school is at least 11-12 years so I'm not in any rush...
  9. Jan 25, 2010 #8
    Aww, my mom went there and my brother's finishing up there now, so I have a strong attachment. I love the campus, but I don't know about the physics program. Though my friend loved the Queens math/physics courses she took before transferring into City for engineering, and the lack of grad students in the CUNYs mean lots of good undergrad research opportunities.

    Undergrad may end up 5 years, but *shrugs*. Since you want a phd anyway, consider a 5 year combined program (lots of them and better funding options). It works out to about 3 years of coursework, 2+ years for research and dissertation.
  10. Jan 25, 2010 #9
    I'm not really sure what to do because I don't know of many schools and I figure Queens College is close to where I live(in fact even closer than Queens borough) so if I finished my undergrad there I would be fine. I'm also willing to study on a calendar year rather than academic year(e.g taking classes during summer and winter break). I don't watch television and I have few hobbies and without much mathematical understanding it's pretty much just me reading tons of low level science books or watching science videos on the computer... I probably know as much as a layman can know in regards to natural science without advanced mathematical knowledge or understanding.

    I don't know much about academics, different colleges, and things like that... My parents never discussed anything(regarding academics and career choice) with me because they were more busy with their philanthropic work and they didn't want to pressure me. All I know is that I've been interested in natural science since I could first read regular books(2nd grade) and my interest has only grown since then.
  11. Jan 25, 2010 #10
    I sympathize with that a lot. My brother transferred to Queens for the shorter commute, and I rent an apartment a block from my school for the same reason. Commute definitely factors into burn out.

    Beware burn out. I've taken summers every year since I was a freshie (when I decided 15 credits would be an awesome amount to take in a summer), and it just contributed so badly to the burnout. The winter courses are also crazy packed, and sometimes it's just nice to walk away from school for a couple of weeks. (CUNY gives you a month off to have fun, take advantage of it.) Seriously though, if you do summers you may be able to get out in 3 years, but since you're fine with taking it slow there's no reason to crunch it all in. Do REUs instead, they'll help you tons for grad school.
  12. Jan 25, 2010 #11
    I'm not worried about burnout; if my sisters managed it so easily then I don't see why I can't. I actually want to learn(whether it's learning something relevant to current coursework or not) on my free time. I'll try to get advice from everywhere I can though, I'm sure there must be a reason why people consistently make similar statements to yours, for example.
  13. Jan 25, 2010 #12
    Do not hold yourself to your sisters standards, please. Everyone learns differently and absorbs knowledge differently and can handle different loads. Please don't push yourself just 'cause you think it makes you look smarter, 'cause nothing ever turns out well that way.

    And you'll never have the time to if you overload yourself with coursework and research and don't stop for a break. I barely have time to do all the learning I want to for my research, can get more if I step back from my non-school related sanity activities. I haven't done much major outside learning in years 'cause time is such a limited resource.
  14. Jan 25, 2010 #13
    I'm just saying, in case I don't pass the exams I can still make up for it by taking summer courses and etc. I just don't see the major advantage/disadvantage of finishing a semester early/late.
  15. Jan 26, 2010 #14
    I'm not trying to dissuade you from that, really. I think it's a good idea. I don't even mean to be dissuading you from summer courses. They're fun in their own way, and I liked my summer math courses as much as/more then my regular ones, (and the professor I had in the summer actually teaches at Queens normally.)

    It's more of a "beware of overload" and "don't take courses for the wrong reasons" response. And 'cause you want a phd, REUs are gonna be a much better summer investment.
  16. Jan 26, 2010 #15
    Wouldn't I worry about REUs when once I transfer?

    Also: When is a good time to transfer? I don't need to stay in community college for a full two years because, as I mentioned earlier, my parents can cover costs for more expensive senior colleges.
  17. Jan 26, 2010 #16
    I was talking in general terms, but yeah. REUs generally want students at 4 year schools.

    Whenever you feel ready. If the classes feel too basic, consider transferring in for Fall 2010. If you like the level, then talk with an advisor about how to transfer to the senior colleges/how it all works/when would be best. Queens is only $1000 more per semester then QCC anyway.
  18. Jan 26, 2010 #17
    That's the plan I've had for a while.
    My parents thought a zero was omitted in my tuition :tongue:. I guess they're too use to paying for my sister's NYU tuition.

    My parents have been very supportive of me from the time when I had to go to a psychologist in junior year of high school up till when I transferred out to a local high school in senior year. My senior year average was 95+ but I doubt that counts for anything since my first 3 years of highschool I averaged 72(meaning less than 80 counting senior year).
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
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