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Testing Improving test speed

  1. Mar 29, 2017 #1
    High school student here. I have just over a month until my AP Calculus exam. I love math and I'm confident that I understand all the concepts necessary to ace the exam.

    Here's the catch: Whenever I work with a ticking clock, I either don't finish every question in time or make a bunch of silly mistakes—the kind that leave you shaking your head and thinking, "I know that." This especially true of the multiple choice section. Working through the problem to a full, neat solution takes too long. Merely scribbling enough so that I know which circle to fill in leads to errors. How do I balance the two? Get faster at producing orderly work? Develop better intuition? Or something else entirely?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2017 #2

    Choppy

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    If you're not getting through the test on time (and everyone else is), you could be having some issues with time management during the test. Some students will spend more time than they need to on the questions they know the answers to and less time on those they don't, which really should be reversed. You might want to spend some time just reviewing basic time management or test-taking strategies. These would include things like figuring out when to move on from a difficult question, leaving time to review your answers, etc.
     
  4. Mar 30, 2017 #3
    Practice against a ticking clock, try to beat your times; while also prepping for these by developing better intuition.
     
  5. Mar 30, 2017 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I am going to argue the reverse. Don't strive for speed. Strive for accuracy. Let the speed come naturally.

    There is no virtue in getting the wrong answer quickly.
     
  6. Mar 30, 2017 #5
    At the same time there's no virtue in getting the right answer 'naturally' at all if it doesn't come under the test's time conditions.
     
  7. Mar 30, 2017 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    That's true, but my experience is that the strategy of getting things "mostly right" and to count on partial credit tends to fail when working quickly.
     
  8. Mar 30, 2017 #7

    PAllen

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    Yes, that's also mine. Knowing when to abandon a question is crucial, but rushing the ones you know how to approach can backfire. Practice (with a clock) should improve both speed and accuracy. I have a supporting anecdote. My best friend in high school was clearly slightly better in math than I. We were both practicing for a national math contest, taking practice exams under time limits, comparing strategies and the like. Come time for the actual test, he went for trying to answer as much as possible while I went for making sure what I answered was correct (wrong answers counted fractionally less than zero on the multiple choice section such that guessing would be of no value). He finished more than me, but made several uncharacteristic oversights; I did less, but only one question was wrong. The result was that I slightly outscored him.
     
  9. Mar 30, 2017 #8

    PAllen

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    On your specific exam (I'm guessing th BC AP calculus exam), unless it has changed a lot, there is not much that is conceptually challenging. Instead, practiced facility and thorough familiarity with the material are all that is needed for a top score.
     
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