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Speed and Math Tests

  1. Mar 8, 2012 #1
    Hi Physics Forum,

    So last night, I took an hour and a half Analysis on Manifolds midterm and there's no way I got over a 60 on it. It was 6 questions long.

    The problem I always have with math tests is that I never have enough time to do them! If he had given us those six problems as homework, I could've easily gotten a 100. Whenever I do homework, I never procrastinate. So I always get my work done and do very well on it, but I do so at my own pace. During tests, I just blank out.

    Is there any way to improve test-taking abilities? I know the material fairly well, I'm just slow. Did anyone else have this same problem?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 8, 2012 #2
    I've known many people like you. Very smart, but quite slow. Those people don't always have it easy, as they often consider themself inferior to the fast thinkers. You shouldn't feel this way. Eventually you'll get where you want to get, but often with lower grades than you deserve.

    I don't have any ideas of what you should do. But I just wanted to make clear that you're not alone in this.
  4. Mar 8, 2012 #3
    This is exactly how I feel. I don't understand how some people finish those questions so quickly. Then I always go home and take time to work them out and beat myself up over it.

    Couldn't there be a better way to test people? That doesn't require "getting lucky" and seeing the answers right away.
  5. Mar 8, 2012 #4
    Try not to beat yourself up like that. Don't compare yourself to other people, only to yourself. It's easier said than done however.

    There are better ways to test people. But there are always bad sides about everything. A better way to test people is by giving out take-home exams. However, many people will use that opportunity to cheat, so that's not a good way to test.

    I fear the situation is how it is. Tests with a lot of questions and a little time are what they do now. Best not to feel depressed about it. Strive for a full understanding of the material, this is something you have control over.
  6. Mar 8, 2012 #5
    I am the same way as OP although I am only in calc 1 and not "Analysis on manifolds" (sounds scary).

    I think I may have a learning disability of some kind because I am extremely slow, I have a horrible short term memory, and I cannot concentrate with any sort of distraction going on. Also, my brain cannot seem to think about more than one thing at a time. For example, whenever I am reading a proof, every time I will come across a variable name (or function or whatever it may be) I will work hard to understand what it means, what its relationship is with what we are trying to prove etc etc... But then when I move past that line and keep working through the proof, whenever I come across that same variable/concept again I CAN NEVER REMEMBER ALL THE CONTEXT AND INSIGHTS THAT I JUST SPENT SO MUCH TIME BUILDING. SO FRUSTRATING!! It's like I can only fit one thing in my head so how am I supposed to relate multiple complicated concepts together to form a new concept and get deep intuition?????

    Anyway, that was kind of off topic from OP's post, but what I was wodnering is...

    Is there any way to get extra time on tests for circumstances like mine? I feel like I can understand all the concepts that the average student at my university is capable of understanding but it just may take me a little longer and use a little more paper ;).

  7. Mar 8, 2012 #6
    You might want to see a psychiatrist about that. What you're describing is not just being slow. Good luck in finding out what's wrong!!
  8. Mar 8, 2012 #7
    can psychiatrists really help something like this? That would be incredible but i've never heard of someone being cured of poor very-short-term memory or inability to think about multiple things at once...

    I will look into it though
  9. Mar 8, 2012 #8
    It depends. You also mention difficulty in concentrating. That could mean ADD or something. (I'm not diagnosing here). Probably worth seeing a psychiatrist, or just a doctor.
  10. Mar 8, 2012 #9

    Hopefully their diagnosis will be something other than, "kid, you're just plain dumb". LOL

  11. Mar 8, 2012 #10
    I do this too, but it's gotten better for me. To practice, I take a whole page of potential test problems and glance at the problem and if I don't immediately know how to start the problem then I know that one needs some work. Since I'm a very slow test taker as well I feel this way helps me alleviate the slowest part.. getting started. Once I know where I'm going I feel just as fast as anyone else but I can easily take twice maybe even three times longer than someone else if the starting process isn't clear. I was motivated to hear that Penrose was slow at tests too.

    Nishrito, have you pin pointed what exactly is slowing you down? Calculations? Organization? Distractions?

  12. Mar 9, 2012 #11
    Does your university some sort of academic support service? At mine, you can go in and take a series of tests and they'll give you some sort of diagnosis and if you qualify, you can get extra times on exams. I had a friend who had the same problems you're describing. He finally went there his junior year and qualified for extra time on exams. Now he gets straight A's and B's in all his math classes.
  13. Mar 9, 2012 #12
    Definitely getting started on problems is my slowest part. I'm pretty quick at calculations and I catch my mistakes in computational problems fairly quickly. Questions that ask me to prove things are another story. I look at the problem and if I don't immediately know how to do it, I panic. Then my mind blanks on everything. I can't remember what it means when a set has measure zero, etc. So then I skip it and move onto the next problem, and the process starts again. Then I end up just putting half-assed answers down within the last 15 minutes. I'll definitely have to try the potential test problems idea.
  14. Mar 9, 2012 #13
    that sounds great! So do you think it is possible to comprehend higher level math concepts (such as the class you're currently taking) while having my cognitive difficulties? Obviously you don't know me or my intelligence level but you're friend's story is inspiring to me as an aspiring math major
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