Math In Standardized Tests
What is a standardized test?
Standardized tests (e.g., SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT etc.) are aptitude tests to assess the proficiency of students for a given course of study. The scores obtained in standardized tests are supposed to predict individual success in job or profession after completing the course. For example, research shows that the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a valid predictor of students' performance in the MBA program. Studies also support the proposition of post-MBA career successes with GMAT test scores.
Most standardized tests consist of some form of evaluation for two subjects: English and Math. The first part of English, often called verbal ability test, assesses test-takers ability to read and write grammatically correct English. Several years of reading text-books, writing papers, speaking in front of the class at elementary and high schools allows standardized test takers to score well without much effort.
Math in Standardized Tests
The standardized exam may be composed of its own format of math questions. The Math section, sometimes called Quantitative section, can have questions of the following types: Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency, Data Comparison, Graphical Problems, and Grid-Ins. Despite quantitative problems appearing in numerous forms, they test a limited number of concepts. The concepts can be categorized in 3 broad sections of Math: Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry.
Most standardized tests give considerable importance to the arithmetic concepts such as Percent, Ratio, Average, and Numbers. The arithmetic section often makes for 50% or over part of the Quantitative section of the test. The number of arithmetic problems in the GMAT or GRE Math is about 55% to 60% of the total number of questions.
In terms of the number of questions asked in the test, Algebra is not as important. The areas tested in the Algebra are: Solving Simple Equations, Binomial Theorem & Quadratic Equations, and Advance Algebra with Inequalities. About 15% to 25% of problems are from Algebra section of Math. The percentage distribution may vary for different exams.
Test-makers prefer to make questions in Geometry in many different forms and flavors. The basic concepts tested in this area come from: Angles & Triangles, Squares & Rectangles, Circles, Co-ordinate, and Solid Geometry. Even though advance questions require knowledge and practice with important concepts, the easier problems are often intuitive and aptitude based. In any given standardized Math test, about 20% to 40% of all questions are from the Geometry section. In SAT exam, about 35% pf questions are from the Geometry. In the GMAT exam only 20% of all questions are Geometry problems.
Makers of standardized tests have a special liking for oddball questions. These questions are derived from concepts of more than one topic and often require common sense besides basic section concepts. It is not uncommon to find a problem on a geometrical figure, which can be resolved into an algebraic expression with some simple common sense method. In the world of GMAT and GRE, the category of miscellaneous problems is called Word Problems. The key to do well in this section is two-fold: (1) Know the basics of Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry; (2) Apply common sense to translate the given information and the question in the form of mathematical equations.
FORMAT OF MATH PROBLEMS
Math problems in standardized tests are almost always in the objective multiple choice question form. The Grid-in questions in the SAT exam are an exception. The usual format includes a description of problem with one or more useful piece of information. A question statement follows the given information. Then the problem is followed by 4 or 5 answer choices.
Students taking the test are required to utilize the given information in answering the question statement. There is no single strategy to solve a multiple-choice math problem.
Plugging numbers: Helps avoid complex algebraic calculations
Back solving: Taking the help of answer choices to eliminate wrong options
Eye-balling & approximating: Helpful in simple geometrical problems
Intelligent guessing: Eliminating unlikely answers to decrease options
The strategies described above work best when test-takers are equipped with basic concepts of Arithmetic, Algebra, & Geometry, and invest time & effort in practicing sample questions in actual exam like format.
Other formats of Math problems (e.g., Data sufficiency in GMAT, Grid-in in SAT, Graph in GRE & SAT) form a small percentage of all questions in the test. Students are advised to develop their own strategy for such questions. Once again, knowing the basics and practicing with such problems is the key for doing well in such problems.
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Bachelor of Science in Mathematic
The complexity of today's society demands intelligence from all members who wish to succeed. With the existing conditions of our economy and our current culture along with the prospective economy and culture, a Bachelor of Science major in mathematics would give a young person more advantages than would any other degree. The reasons for achieving such a degree are strong and varied, giving an equation for success that is nearest to perfect.
Mathematics is a subject that, when applied correctly, can give an insight into the mechanisms that make an economy tick. Science based fields also tend to be very successful considering the speed at which society is increasing its knowledge and applications of this field. By obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree, one has been introduced to a selection of scientific fields which give the possessor of the degree a background that will allow him or her to be easily qualified for a variety of high-paying careers.
Although the arts are an integral part of today's society, the benefits of achieving a degree in such a field of study is lesser than that of a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. The justification lies in the fact that most colleges require a diverse curriculum along with the various courses required for the desired major. This gives most college students an introduction into these fields, but the lack of attention to the sciences leaves majors of the humanities and the arts at a disadvantage in later life.
Our society's shift to an attention of mathematics and sciences in recent years has increased and will continue to increase the importance of a degree in such fields to levels that exceed the previously dominant majors in the humanities and the arts. This gives those young adults who decide to strive for a Bachelor of Science in mathematics an advantage over all other majors. For these reasons, this degree is the most useful major for a young adult to achieve. The advantageous effects will continue to bear fruit for the owner of the degree in the present as well as in the future.