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What kind of math test do you like best?

  1. Jul 11, 2008 #1
    If you're taking a pure math course with lots of proofs and hard homework (typical grad-level stuff) what kind of tests do you like best? I'm talking about in-class tests.

    I like a test that is mostly proofs, with about half of them from the book. I like like longer proofs from the book better, the short ones are too tricky. I don't like numerical problems much, as I make a lot of dumb mistakes then spend the days after the test beating myself up over it.

    Still, I guess it is an important part of the process of learning to go under the gun every now and then. But it's just so AWFUL when you look back and think of all the things you did wrong (and you think I should know better! I'm a math major!) and it embarrassing and terrifying.

    I've gotten to the point where I can manage the pre-test stress OK, but waiting to see how I did and thinking about all of the dumb mistakes I've made AFTER the test is so depressing. How can I make this more constructive for myself? Will it ever get any better? I have two more years to go before I get my masters, and I'm looking forward to learning but dreading failure.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2008 #2
    i absolutely do not understand the point of proofs on tests. give me long projects sure, but sitting there and thinking up an original proof is not something that anyone should have to do under pressure. it's just dumb and doesn't teach you anything.
  4. Jul 11, 2008 #3
    ice109, what sort of thing do you like to see on in in-class test?
  5. Jul 11, 2008 #4
    I've only had one class like that so far, and we only had one in class test. The rest were take home tests, which I feel worked much better. I just don't feel like you can really do justice to that type of class at all with an in class test.
  6. Jul 11, 2008 #5
    i think traditional tests are absolutely pointless. i will not become a better mathematician or physicist by doing things fast. all they are are a way for a lazy professor to hold you responsible.
    i wholly agree.
  7. Jul 11, 2008 #6
    I enjoy having proofs on in-class exams: I enjoy the pressure and the on-the-spot feel to them.
  8. Jul 11, 2008 #7


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    I like learning something new in tests. A good in-class test, IMO, should introduce new concepts (i.e., some new definitions), and have you apply what you have learned in class to these new concepts (i.e., explore some properties of these new definitions).

    And while I do tend to do good on them, I despise tests which focus on proofs that rely on some original construction. You know, those proofs that take you two hours to figure out, until you finally dream up the answer and write the 3-line proof. They can make good homework, but they're utterly useless as for testing purposes.
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