18 May 2006

Math Placement Exam

So I took my Math Placement Test today...

Let me back up. I got a Precalculus book from the Huntsville Public Library two weeks ago, and I've spent the time since then studying and refreshing my memory off and on, trying to place into MA171, Calculus A. I had originally scheduled the exam for Tuesday, May 16 at 9:00, but decided I needed an extra day or two of cramming, so I rescheduled for the 1:00 exam today.

So I spent the morning looking over the math book, taking breaks for lunch and a bit of time to relax and read a few blogs, and around 12:15 or so I came back upstairs to chat with Beth for a minute. We chatted for a bit, and around 12:30 I told her I needed to go throw some shoes on and get to campus, which is about ten or fifteen minutes' drive from here.

No sooner had I gotten offline that I realized: I've got to take a shit. Badly.

So I go take care of business, moving as fast as I can. I look at my watch, and oh shit, I'm going to be late. Finishing quickly, I run downstairs and look into my school backpack for a couple of pencils that should have been there.

But they're not.

I do have a few unsharpened pencils, though, so I grab two of them and run back upstairs to sharpen them at Beth's drawing table (ask to see some of her drawings sometime). With two freshly-sharpened pencils, and with twelve minutes until one, I run back downstairs, close and lock the door, and walk quickly to my car. So long as traffic isn't too heavy I should be able to make it, I thought.

So I'm driving down Sparkman drive trying to get to the Administrative Science building (where Testing Services is located) and I'm at a red light over at Bradford drive. Not a problem, I think, as I turn right onto Bradford and slide into the back parking lot near Morton Hall. (Map here; I was near point 2 on the map, and the Admin Science building is point 12.) Which necessitated walking across the little wooded area behind the CCRH, and under normal circumstances wouldn't be a problem.

Except by this point I've got maybe four minutes to get to the testing office, and I really don't want to be late.

So I run. Here's the problem -- there was some sort of event going on on campus today (looked like some sort of Jazz Festival) which meant I had to run through a fairly crowded quad. And considering that I was wearing my normal attire of blue jeans and a button-up casual shirt with the tails hanging out, and carrying my cell in my hand since it wouldn't fit in my pocket, I must have made a strange sight.

I ran through the crowd and made it there as fast as I could, walked quickly up to the second floor, and collapsed into the Testing Services office. Right at 1:00. Obviously flushed, exhausted.

“Sorry I'm late. Ran across campus. Got here as soon as I could.”
“Yeah, obviously,” they said, referring to my appearance. “We're still waiting on someone else, so go have a seat in the little nook and we'll see you in a minute.”

I thanked them, got a drink of water at the water fountain, and sat down in what ordinarily would have been an uncomfortable chair, but under the circumstances was quite nice. This was the moment when I realized just how out-of-shape I am, as I couldn't even run that far without being totally out-of-breath.

After a couple of minutes a young lady came to get me, got some information from me, and led me in to take the test. After checking my ID and reading me some instructions, she let me sit down at a computer terminal to take the placement test.

Turns out it was 20 multiple choice questions that ranged in difficulty. A few were fairly easy, dealing with simple slopes of lines and such, while others required a factorization of a polynomial, or required me to add two polynomial fractions together, with different denominators. Nothing too difficult, but a lot of grunt work (especially since calculators were verboten).

I spent maybe forty-five minutes on the exam, more than half of it on five questions or so, and did the best I could. I needed a 95 out of 120 to place into Calculus A, and ended up getting an 89. Which means I was only one question or so away from getting where I wanted.


I came home, exhausted and sore in my legs, and chatted with Beth over ICQ for a bit. I've made an appointment with the College of Science adviser for next Wednesday at 2:00, and we'll discuss my options. I can theoretically take the placement test again, but I'm not sure if that's the wisest choice. By my schedule, it'd be best if I could take Cal A in the fall, but I'm thinking that my GPA might be helped by retaking Precal. I'd also like to see if the adviser can let me take Cal A in the fall anyway, despite being a question or so away from placement at that level.

I guess we'll see on Wednesday.

No comments: