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It's Off to Work We Go

When I help students with math topics, I emphasize for them to show their work, especially on exams. Why? 1 - Some teachers and instructors will give partial credit for what you got correct. Some may give you credit up to the point you made the error, then deduct points because the rest of the problem is "incorrect". If you only made one small error, but the technical concepts in the rest of the problem were correct, the instructor may only deduct a point or two to reflect the error. 2 - Showing your work is like having a map. If you made a wrong turn but don't know how you got there, how are you going to know how to get to where you need to be? Similarly, if you only have an answer on the test but don't show how you got there, what is going to prevent you from making the same mistake again? 3 - I realize that some questions can be answered by inspection. In these cases, jot down a quick note as to the rule, or property, or other approach you took to... read more

I'll Get Back to You on That One

How many people have started taking a test, and do question 1, then question 2, and so on, and get stuck on question M, and never get to look at questions N through Z? Unless the test is automated to where you have to answer the questions sequentially, there is no rule that says you have to take EVERY test that way. In fact, I haven't taken a test completely sequentially in years. As you take an exam, you're bound to hit a question that you're unsure of. If so, label it somehow - circle the question number, put a little tick mark (or a question mark) in the margin, or some other indicator that tells you to come back to that question. Then continue on to the next question, and repeat this strategy as often as necessary. This method does gives you a few advantages: 1 - It gives you a chance to get to the questions you can answer correctly (the "low hanging fruit", if you will), which in turn increases your chance at a higher grade. 2 - You might see a... read more

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