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An Interesting Experiment I Conducted in ACJC – The Test Subject was a Teacher
I took my SAT2 Maths and Physics tests a couple of days ago, after only 4 days of preparation. I wasn’t really thinking about maximizing the chances of getting prefect scores, as I think overdoing revision is a horrible waste of time, especially when there are much more important things I need to work on, and they are much more interesting than just stimulating repeatedly the process of retrieving different sets of data already encoded to improve the performance of their corresponding search algorithms in my brain. And I can’t predict the future and so I can’t say for sure that I will get 800 for both subjects. But it’s highly unlikely that it won’t do well. The pre-university curricula of mathematics and physics are rather elementary. (Topology isn’t even in the A Level H3 maths syllabus. And SAT L2 maths doesn’t even have calculus.)
Something quite interesting happened before the test when I was in the exam room.
Waiting for the test to start was a very mundane thing. Out of boredom, I decided to run through some math and physics equations in my mind just to get sidetracked, only to realize that I hadn’t made use of the formula for the surface area of a sphere for as long as I could remember. And I couldn’t remember it at the time. As I pondered whether I should try to derive it by doing a definite integration of the function that gives the circumference of a disk, or by differentiating the function for the volume of the sphere, a tall, polished-looking figure in a button-down shirt he entered the room.
I’m guessing he’s a math teacher, most likely from the ACJC. He went in to check the graphing calculators of the students who had brought him and clear the stored data if there was any cache to prevent possible acts of dishonesty. His outfit gave me a good impression and reminded me of a physics teacher I like, who is very passionate about teaching. An idea struck me: why not do a little experiment and have him as a test subject without his knowledge, like the Stanford prison experiment and other social experiments?
I did not bring a graphing calculator, as experience with mock SAT math papers told me that a scientific calculator would suffice. Noticing the absence of a graphing calculator on my desk, he was about to walk past me, and that’s when this ill-advised experiment began:
“Hi. Excuse me, can you tell me what the formula for the surface area of a sphere is?” I asked, trying to sound as polite as possible. Since I already knew that I could easily derive it using different approaches in calculus, I was more interested in his reaction to this simple request of mine which I did not find inappropriate since the test had yet to begin.
Hearing this, he turned his head and looked at me. I saw the indifference in his eyes, mixed with a slight expression of revulsion and surprise. So I smiled kindly. “No,” he said coldly and walked away. Although I expected him not to answer my question, his one-word answer and the way he said it surprised me. I thought he would politely say “I don’t know” if he didn’t want to tell me the formula. Or something like that with a smile. I didn’t expect such a distant rejection. And the irony was that minutes later the test started and I discovered that the formula was on the first page of the test papers, resting harmoniously with some other formulas; the formula for the surface area of a sphere is one of the formulas given to students in the SAT2 maths subject test.
Maybe he wasn’t in a good mood. I hope his attitude isn’t like that when he teaches because it’s clear that this unpleasant attitude won’t help. Teaching is an intensely psychological process and the way a teacher interacts with students has a profound impact on the learning process that takes place in the students’ brains.
Teaching is also a creative and not easy profession. A person should not be qualified to be a teacher if the salary is the only motivation behind their teaching which involves sharing knowledge. If one shares what he knows with others only when paid, he is more of an information broker than a teacher. And in this case mercenary, since we live in an age where information from textbooks taught by teachers is freely available on the Internet. I do not mean that all school teachers should teach for free. School teachers should be paid not for the information they share with students, but for how they share it: they should be paid for the effort and precious time they spend preparing and delivering instruction. And to provide creative and effective teaching, one must be a genuine teacher who teaches not for money but for passion, who will gladly share his knowledge with everyone on every occasion, unless it is detailed like in a book Closed. proof Teachers are the lifeblood of school education and we can improve school education, on a microscopic scale, by hiring more genuine and suitable teachers for this creative profession and by encouraging disguised information brokers to get excited about the ‘teaching or simply dismiss them.
Or maybe he’s a good teacher and didn’t want to tell me the formula because of a principle I had to respect. In the name of fairness and equality, no student should be given any advantage before the start of a test when information is generally inaccessible. Principles like this are created with good intentions. This one, for example, is probably created with the intention of improving the accuracy of the test, by having a time interval in which students do not have to do anything before starting the test, so that their result can describe a person’s academic performance more authentically. But these principles should be obsolete and abandoned because they are based on the preconception that tests and test results are important, which is an exaggeration, and they are not in favor of the bigger picture of education, teaching and learning. The dominant culture in education has focused on testing rather than teaching and learning. A test should be treated as one more element in the learning journey. We must stop popularizing the belief that tests and test results are of immense importance. And this is the first step we can take to improve school education on a macroscopic scale.
Or maybe he forgot the formula because he’s not actually a math teacher. Then I will have to thank him for answering me with “no” instead of “I don’t know” and inspiring me to write this article. Otherwise, this experiment has successfully demonstrated that not all teachers are willing to impart knowledge to students even when there is really nothing to prohibit it.
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