Notes On Difficult Math Tests

in Education5 months ago

Hi there. In this education post, I cover the topic of difficult math tests. By nature, mathematics is a difficult and demanding topic for many. One thing that makes things worse is when math tests are made to be more difficult than it should be. I cover different cases where math tests are difficult.

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  • Some Teachers, Schools Or School Boards Make The Math Courses Difficult
  • Unclear Instructions & Questions On Math Tests
  • Long Questions
  • Open Book Math Tests
  • Theoretical & Abstract Math In Tests


Some Teachers, Schools Or School Boards Make The Math Courses Difficult

For many mathematics is not really a popular subject as it is difficult in nature. The concepts in mathematics do build upon each other and there is fair bit of memorization involved. To get really get good in mathematics at the university level and above a lot of practice, patience and persistence is needed.

What makes math courses even more difficult is when some teachers make a math course more difficult than it should be. An out of teach math teacher would teach something like solving linear system of equations for grade six when the students have not learned algebra basics. (Example Below)


This type of teacher could be going against school board recommendations when it comes to math course difficulty. I could talk more about this in detail in a different post.

There are cases when schools or school boards adopt a more rigorous math curriculum for students. Math topic selections could feature topics that are more abstract or algebraic in nature. As an example different teachers and different schools could teach calculus differently and even with varying difficulty. When I mention difficulty it can include the amount of topics, the choice of topics and/or how theoretical the course can be.

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Unclear Instructions & Questions On Math Tests

One aspect of a difficult math course is based on math tests. Instructions on questions could be designed to be confusing. It could be the phrasing of the questions that makes things unclear or the questions contain a lot of math symbols that are not familiar for students for that grade. There is also the case where there are certain words in a question that are new for the test taker.

A more extreme case is that the student did not prepare well enough for the math tests and is not familiar with the material and terminology. With a lack of knowledge and understanding in a subject, the simple questions can be unclear.


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Long Questions

Long questions do appear in math tests and in other subjects. You can have a short question that requires a lot of work to produce an answer. Long questions can appear in the form as questions with many parts to them. There are also questions that are not long but do require a long answer.

Math questions that are long are often difficult in the sense is that there are so many places where an answer can go wrong. Areas where an answer can go wrong on a long question include algebra errors, writing errors, typos and even logic errors.

There is also the time management aspect when it comes to long questions on a test. One long question does take a lot of time and that time could've been used for other easier questions.


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Open Book Math Tests

An open book test is a test where test takers are allowed to have reference materials while taking their tests. Open book test do vary in terms of what is allowed. Some open book tests can allow for a textbook to be available, some allow for one cheat sheet with hand written notes, some can allow for class notes, some can even allow for your laptop to be there. Just because aids are available during tests it does not mean that the tests are easy. Through experiences from a few open book tests, I have found that open book tests to be extremely difficult. Having aids does help if memorization is an issue but the questions in open book tests are designed to be


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Theoretical & Abstract Math In Tests

Some math tests may not be made hard from the teacher/instructor. The nature of the math topic(s) could be just difficult and theoretical. Theoretical and abstract math courses generally do have a steep learning curve and not many students attend these classes. The level of logic required to do well in these tests is at a really high level.

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