coffeecoffeebuzzbuzz Posted February 25, 2010 Share Posted February 25, 2010 (edited) Quick question: what college math class to take that is also the most helpful GRE review opportunity? Short background story... this year my ass was officially whipped by unanimous grad school rejection. The common reason after a bit of feedback (and a healthy dose of honest self reflection) is that my low quantitative GRE score combined with a very unusual interdisciplinary undergrad degree is what tipped my "maybe yes" to a "hell no." I recently also came the stubborn conclusion that I should take some regular math classes to balance out my knowledge foundation. With my funky degree I somehow managed to avoid taking any regular math class, and instead somehow talked my way into taking lots of statistics courses (20+ credits worth) up through grad level classes. The combo of weird academic history, and being out of school for a while, has left me scratching my head wondering what class would fill some of my knowledge gaps AND help with general GRE review. Where to begin? What class would be the most beneficial math review and useful for GRE studying? Would you recommend math 70 (introductory algebra), math 90 (intermediate algebra), or math 111 (precalc with college algebra)? For the math placement test I could take any of them, but what would be the most useful? Edited February 25, 2010 by coffeecoffeebuzzbuzz Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

asha Posted February 25, 2010 Share Posted February 25, 2010 The GRE isn't your only problem. All the science programs that I have researched require at least a semester of calculus, if not more. Some places will let you do it your first year or so, others want it fulfilled before you get there. If you haven't taken a math class in a long time, and are hoping to get a degree that requires calculus, it might be a lot of work to get to that level in a short time period. I wouldn't suggest paying for basic algebra or geometry if you have already taken these classes in the past. You might be able to get away with getting a couple of algebra and geometry books and just working your way through them, and then taking pre-calc and calc in succession this summer. If you were able to do that and do well in them, it could really improve your application. You would still have to study for the GRE, but it would mostly be fresh in your mind, making it much easier. I came back to school after being out for almost ten years. I had taken calc in high school, but I had long forgotten most of it. I brushed up on my algebra by myself, and took a precalc class at a community college, and then calc 1 & 2 at my university. This worked out very well for me and I was able to do fine on the GRE with little prep. Your mileage may vary. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

kismetcapitan Posted February 28, 2010 Share Posted February 28, 2010 take no classes. The GRE quantitative is more or less based on an older type of IQ test (I'm a member of Mensa; when I joined I started look at, and seriously questioning, IQ test formats andwhat they actually measure, if anything of real value at all). The logic "skeletons" that each "math" question is based on, has nothing to do with school-taught math at all. The actual math skills - the average American 8th or 9th grader has been taught what they need to know in terms of the calculations and math concepts. The difficult questions simply require knowing what train of logic to follow, or in the case of questions that seem to ask you to do a ridiculous amount of arithmetic (like adding 500 numbers of a sequence), only require you to know the shortcut. All of these can be easily taught; unlike the SAT, the underlying logical structure of the GRE has not changed in ages, and any GRE test-prep teacher worth his/her salt would have reverse engineered the test before thinking they can actually prep students. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

expressionista Posted February 28, 2010 Share Posted February 28, 2010 I took pre-calculus a month or two before I took my GRE, and I found it helpful. I hadn't taken a math class in 12 years, so it was most helpful for me just to get back into the mode of like factoring equations, dealing with exponents, etc (all things I had done before, but just hadn't practiced in ages). I wouldn't have taken it just for the purpose of GRE prep, but it did help me with that. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Branwen daughter of Llyr Posted March 1, 2010 Share Posted March 1, 2010 Maybe I am biased because I am in a "technical" degree, but I find it fascinating that so many adults lack very basic algebra skills. The ability to factor polynomials or solve simple systems of equations should be as basic as being able to read and write. Why is it that we find it socially unacceptable to be unable to read, but people find it "ok" or "not a big deal" if someone is unable to solve basic math problems? I mean, I can't even believe that not all high school students have to take calculus in order to graduate. Is it any wonder why American high school students are so far behind in math and science? Maybe this is not the fault of any one individual, but the fault of the American primary and secondary education system as a whole. It is somewhat unfortunate at best and wildly unsettling at worst. Unfortunately, most math teachers suck. I'm not terrific in math (or at least I wasn't in high school) due to one reason - no one ever explained it to me properly. I'm one of those people who has to UNDERSTAND something very well in order to succeed at it - so if I don't get the underlying logic, I don't do well, no matter how much I try to memorize the rules. When I had a private tutor who explained things to me, I got A's. People, after all, are individuals, and every single brain has slightly different ways of processing learning and information. I was actually really decent at Algebra and Calculus, until I got a different teacher in High school - and I can tell you this - the system is NOT equipped to teach math in various methods so the entire class can "get it." Since it's a basic fact of life that most "pedestrians" will never use calculus or algebra again (let alone geometry and trig) unless they pursue a sciences degree, while ALL people in a literate world should know how to read and write, the focus is definitely not on math. At least 5 of my students (whom I taught English, not Math) kept saying about their math classes that they'll never use it - after all - they don't need an equation to count the change they get in the supermarket. However, they were VERY willing to work on their English skills (ESL that is), since it's such an important part of being in a global community and for future work plans. Perhaps if class sizes are reduced, and teachers with more patience and a deeper understanding of math theory start teaching high school, scores will improve. There is very little to get excited about in memorizing "math rules" - but if you teach the underlying exciting stuff as well, you might get some more students really hooked on math and sciences. meepboop, Humanenvironment, minnares and 3 others 5 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Branwen daughter of Llyr Posted March 1, 2010 Share Posted March 1, 2010 Maybe this is not the fault of any one individual, but the fault of the American primary and secondary education system as a whole. It is somewhat unfortunate at best and wildly unsettling at worst. You said this, not me. It is a shame when people blame their inability to grasp mathematics on the school system. It is the system's fault. It can't possibly have anything to do with you. You were the victim and there is nothing you could or can do about it. Please. I have had plenty of bad math teachers in my day. I think plenty of people can say the same. Nothing is stopping you from reading ahead in the textbook, getting extra help when needed, or finding another student or teacher who may be able to explain things more clearly. Your "bad" teacher is not the only resource you have at your disposal if you look hard enough. When I had a tutor, I got A's. As I said in my post before. However, you CANNOT expect a 16 year old, unless they LOVE mathematics (a rare thing indeed) to search out a tutor if they are NOT failing, by merely getting C's. And yes. It is THE SCHOOL'S responsibility to teach - not the student's responsibility to find a tutor. If a teacher CANNOT teach math properly so that at least 80% of his class understands what they're studying, it is a FAILURE OF THE SYSTEM. I'm sorry, but you have to be joking me. Most people don't have to (or need to) use math? Most people who are NOT IN THE SCIENCES / HIGHER MATHEMATICS do NOT NEED TO USE ALGEBRA / GEOMETRY / TRIG. They need ARITHMETIC. Big difference. You understand that we live in the technology age, correct? You understand that the future of the economy of this country depends on our ability to progress in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), right? I realize that you are in English, but you sound as if you feel that math is unimportant for the masses. That it is only important if you are pursuing science or engineering or some other specialized degree in college. That is incredibly narrow-sighted. You also have to realize that the highest growing career fields have and always will be STEM fields. Unless you have a strong mathematical background, you will never be in any of those fields. Even business increasingly demands employees to be able to use statistics tools to be able to create financial models. Yes, I do understand, since I AM a technorat. I was a network admin and am currently a technical writer. I never needed to use advanced mathematics for either. And I never said that math wasn't important. I DID say, that most people DON'T THINK THEY NEED ADVANCED MATHEMATICS. They may be proved wrong later in life, but as long as the educational system doesn't emphasize it, they definitely won't know it when they're in high school. Even most colleges require one math class for gen ed requirements, and usually you can substitute logic instead. I'm not saying that's the way it SHOULD be, I'm saying that's the way it IS. I understand that you live in the unique bubble that is academia, but to say that most "pedestrians" don't need to use math is outrageous. Even if you choose not to find a job in STEM or business, you need math to create monthly budgets, figure out how much you need for retirement, investing, and perhaps most importantly, making sure you aren't ever getting ripped off. I would be very worried if I were unable to utilize algebra to make sure my finances were in order. I don't live in the unique academia bubble. I've been out of school and working in the real world for 9 years. And you need algebra for your finances?? You need ARITHMETIC for your finances. Not algebra, or trig, or calculus. No hidden "x" in your budget, no square equations, and gee, you don't even need to know the geometric formula for the area of a circle. STEM is the backbone of our present and future economy. To blow it off as some highly specialized idea that only "science" people need to know is a joke. I didn't blow it off. I said I wasn't great at math in high school, got a tutor, and got better at math. However, I have never needed to use it since, despite being in Hi-Tech. I am not an engineer, nor a programmer, and I never particularly wanted to be. Even when I thought about pursuing an MBA, it was on the marketing side, and I know how to build a budget (NO, I wasn't taught that in high school. I was taught that by my mother). You asked about the system? That's what I answered. The basic fact is, most kids DON'T get "into" math and sciences due to BAD TEACHING. When I had good teachers, I learned. When I didn't, I didn't learn. simple as that - and considering I'm not the only person who didn't do well in math in their school years, and didn't particularly care - that says something about the system, doesn't it? anxiousapplicant, Humanenvironment, meepboop and 4 others 6 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Branwen daughter of Llyr Posted March 1, 2010 Share Posted March 1, 2010 Ok, I guess I am very confused by what exactly you are arguing. Are you arguing that math is unimportant in general or that math is unimportant to you because the system failed to show you why it is important? Yes, you need algebra to do finances when you want to figure out the present value of your loan or want to figure out the compounding effect of interest on your savings. You of course need arithmetic, but you could also use tools in statistics and probability throughout all of finance and investing as well. I am just confused by your overall philosophy on learning. You seem very adamant in suggesting that people outside of STEM careers do not need to learn about algebra, geometry, calculus, whatever. My question is why shouldn't everyone be equipped with a good, secondary understanding of these basic mathematical principles? I am not a chemistry major, but I at least have a good idea of chemical reactions, ionic and covalent bonds, atoms, and the elements on a periodic table. I am also not a history major, but I know about Charlemagne, George Washington, and King Henry VIII. My point is that I shouldn't have to be a history major to know about our history. I shouldn't have to be a biology major to know about photosynthesis. And you shouldn't have to be a math or engineering major to know how to solve a simple system of equations or what a derivative means. No, I don't expect those outside of STEM to be math geniuses, but I am simply suggesting that math is a basic and yet powerful tool that all educated members of our society should be able to use just as we expect all educated members of our society to be able to read and write. I think the problem most people like you have is that you get caught up in a major, field, or industry, and start to forget about everything else. I am a "technical major," but it doesn't mean I forget about or don't enjoy everything else I've learned in the humanities, art history, or other natural sciences I am not actively engaged in. Honestly, I can barely figure out what it is that you are arguing, but I am arguing that a solid understanding of secondary mathematics, including algebra, geometry, and elementary calculus, SHOULD BE as basic to every educated person as the ability to read and write. That just as illiteracy is treated as a serious problem, a weak or non-existent understanding of mathematics up to the high school level should also be treated with the same eye. Ultimately, a country as rich as the United States should have no excuse being so far behind other countries of equal economic status, notably many Asian countries, in terms of math and science education. I never said it shouldn't be important. I said that as things ARE in the system (educational) it ISN'T important. I was merely quoting my student's attitudes towards math, which reflects not MY attitude, but the system they are learning it in. People like me?? I'm one of the broadest educated people I know. I adore physics theory, I read voraciously about history, scientific history, physics theory, and I can even grasp advanced mathematical theory. What I'm saying is, is that the educational system FAILS most students regarding maths and sciences. They are NOT taught as "practical" subjects. No math teacher I ever encountered EVER taught the practical applications of algebra. Most students are NOT aware of math and science's importance in their future lives - and that is a SYSTEMATIC failure. I never said they weren't important - I reflected the ATTITUDE prevalent here in Israel, as well as in the US. As I stated earlier, the fact that only ONE math class is required for college general education in most subjects (barring those who require statistics, the sciences, or math majors) illustrates my point. The fact that you expect a 14-18 year old to go to the trouble to study something that is taught in an extremely boring manner, without any practical applications for their future (as it's taught, not as it SHOULD be taught) is a failure of the system. It is the same with any subject. Things that teachers got me hooked on early in life stuck, and I continued pursuing learning independently. Subjects that were taught in an uninspiring way were ditched. Some I got hooked on later, just by being a bookworm - for example, I started getting interested in mathematical zeta functions after reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptomonicon. I got interested in quantum mechanics when I read The Dancing Wu-Li Masters. However, if you would have asked me in my senior year in high school what I thought about advanced math and physics, I would have made retching sounds. Not because I don't have the mind to grasp it - but because none of my teachers inspired me to take an interest. I love learning, pretty much of any kind. I'm not "major" oriented. I'm not saying that maths and sciences are not important. They are. However, since most people don't actually use them in their day-to-day lives, since they are not taught HOW TO, then the fields lag behind. You claimed that I'm blaming the system because I didn't do well in math. Well, yes I am. As an ESL teacher, it was MY failure if my students didn't grasp the material, not theirs. It was the educational system's failure as well, when the standards are dropping on a daily basis, no effort is being put in to devise alternative methods of teaching, that the textbooks are crap, and that I got penalized for introducing my sixth graders to Rudyard Kipling and challenging them to think. Kids need tutors when the SYSTEM fails them. Some kids can't afford tutors, and many schools don't have approachable teachers that students feel free to come to for additional help. My only argument is that it IS a systematic failure, not that the subjects aren't important. And the systematic failure is reflected in many ways in the attitudes towards math and sciences in society. Most people feel they don't need advanced maths in their day to day lives. Guess why? Because NO ONE ever taught them otherwise, or taught them how to apply those advanced math skills in their lives. It's all a bunch of equations and rules that appear completely disconnected from just about everything else. meepboop 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Branwen daughter of Llyr Posted March 1, 2010 Share Posted March 1, 2010 Wow. No need to get pedantic on me. You don't need to prove to me that you like reading or enjoy physics or whatever. Calm down. Yeah, there is really no need to be arguing because we are talking about two different things, although you still seem to need to get defensive. I am saying how things should be, and you are pointing out how things are. Great. You, however, do make the mistake of trying to convince me that the system has failed everyone in math and science. If you want to be convincing, you cannot make such an egregious generalization about the state of our education system. Surely there are plenty of people in this country who do fall in love with science and/or math and go on to work in STEM careers that shape the backbone of our economy, whether it be tech, computer science, engineering, finance, pharma, whatever. Surely there are plenty of teachers in this country who know how to teach and inspire millions of students in this country to go on to do fascinating things in STEM. I am sorry that you had a particularly poor experience in math and science, but it doesn't negate the fact that increasing interest in STEM careers are the only way we can truly advance as a global economy and solve some of the world's toughest problems. Increasing interest - YES. and that's the role of the teachers. The fact that there is SO much bitching on these very boards about the math tells me that there is something wrong with the way it's being taught. My initial reply was just that - you said something about the system being flawed, I agreed. I got pedantic, because you replied to that in an EXTREMELY insulting manner, misconstruing everything that I've written. Yes, obviously some people fall in love with math and sciences early - but you yourself state that it's not nearly enough. You say one thing and then it's opposite - we both know that the basic fact is that most kids are not interested in math and sciences because teachers don't get them excited about it. Of course, there are many teachers who try. But even those good teachers are often stifled by a system that very rarely gives them the freedom to teach things in a unique and exciting way. Not enough time, not enough resources, etc. You state that it makes no sense that a country as rich as the US is lagging in STEM? Of course it makes no sense. The education system is NOT GEARED TOWARDS IT. It's not just my own experiences with math that I'm relating - I'm also presenting an attitude, quite widespread. As a teacher, I had very few students who saw any usefulness in mathematics. Why? Because no one taught them the usefulness of it. You may agree or you may not, but the dismal state of math and science scoring in the US (and unfortunately, Israel is most definitely sliding down towards the US in the rankings) compared to the world doesn't tell me anything about the quality of the students. It does, however, tell me quite a lot about the quality of the system that is supposed to be providing learning tools and knowledge. meepboop 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

coffeecoffeebuzzbuzz Posted March 2, 2010 Author Share Posted March 2, 2010 (edited) Ok, so math is important. Got it. I was rejected and received the stern finger wagging from the universe to get my act together. I spent the past couple of months working my way through various old text books trying to fill in the gaps but somehow that was not enough. I could make all sorts of excuses for this, but really it doesn't change my bad score or the grad school paradigm that makes the GRE a requirement. My reoccurring challenge has more to do with difficulty with the GRE test style. My knee jerk reaction was always to solve the problem, rather than to take a best guess. Part of me just feels dirty doing math in such a sloppy way, the entire test seems so pointless. I curse ever time I look at one of their disproportionately drawn diagrams or graphs with errors and poorly represented legends. With a groan I know that I should study for the GRE; with a much more driven focus I accept that I need to take more math classes up through calculus and linear algebra. So let me rephrase the question... I know that I need to do the GRE I know that also need to move towards fullfilling my math class pre-req's I have limited time to do both Do I - A- take a less challenging math class (intro algbra) and study the GRE more? or B- take a more challenging math class (precalc) and study the GRE less? Now, what would be the most useful class to take to fulfill both of my goals? Is this even possible? What matters more in the grad school application process? Edited March 2, 2010 by coffeecoffeebuzzbuzz Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

JerryLandis Posted March 2, 2010 Share Posted March 2, 2010 I think the importance of learning math for most people (beyond your essential, very basic stuff you get in middle school) is that it's good mental exercise and helps people learn how to think logically. I always hated math but I understand why I was made to take it beyond the practical level. I'll never make practical use of any of the math I learned beyond 9th grade. I think that making Calculus compulsory for all high school students is ridiculous - setting higher (and unnecessary) standards for kids won't help them meet the lower standards they already struggle with. For the GRE, refreshing your algebra skills can really help. But you don't really need a math class to do that - if you learned it when you were 14 or 15, and you understood it then, you should be able to refresh your memory about most of it and re-learn the formulas and rules by using a GRE book. If, as the above poster said, calculus is necessary for your degree, I'd put much more weight on taking care of that than I would taking GRE-specific classes. Much of the math on the GRE is about "logical thinking," NOT working out equations. I'm the kind of person who feels the need to plug all the numbers in a solve the problem (after years of having to do that in school!), not guess at the answer based on estimations and tricks, so I found the quantitative section a bit difficult to get used to. If you use a book (I used Barrons, but if I remember correctly it didn't cover slopes so you may want to use a different one) and diligently go through the whole chapter, and do all the practice problems, you should be able to refresh your understanding of algebra. It probably won't take too much time either if you spread it out over a couple weeks. expressionista 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

herself the elf Posted March 2, 2010 Share Posted March 2, 2010 Quick question: what college math class to take that is also the most helpful GRE review opportunity? . . . . Would you recommend math 70 (introductory algebra), math 90 (intermediate algebra), or math 111 (precalc with college algebra)? For the math placement test I could take any of them, but what would be the most useful? Unfortunately, I don't think it really matters which of these classes you take, they will all provide a refresher but none of them will prepare you for the test. The algebra on the GRE is certainly introductory algebra, but that only covers a portion (1/3 maybe?) of the questions, and it won't prepare you at all for the real thing that is important: learning to take the test. The real way to study for this test is to learn how to practice question types, both in timed and untimed settings. Yes, unfortunately, it is testing your ability to take the test. Over and over again on these boards there are people who are in some math field who get in the 600s in the math section. I am a lawyer, have not been required to do more than basic math for 10 years, and I got a very high score. Why? Not because I'm better at math, certainly not. Why did I do better? I learned how to take the test. Is it fair? Well, I studied my ass off for three months, so, I think I earned it. Does it accurately measure math ability. God, no. Like one of the other posters said, the questions types, in some instances, require you to take the best guess at what you surmise to be the closest answer, in a situation where you would have to be a super-whiz to test all 4 answers in time. School math is not like that and requires precision, showing your work, etc. (at least it did in the classes I took). And when did any of us ever learn 3-4-5, 5-12-13, things like that? I never did, not in school, that's for sure. I didn't take a review class, I just bought books and actually did them, every single question. I spent the first month and a half completing the main Kaplan book, the math Kaplan book, the Kaplan words book, and some other words book, I think Barron's. (Total cost appx. $80). I made words flashcards (appx. 2000?). I did the flashcards all the time, took them to the beach, etc., they were always in my purse, even at parties. With the math, every time I missed a question I looked up the answer and went back and did it again. For the last month and a half, I went back through the entire math book and the math section of the main book and did all of my wrong answers again, making sure that I had learned how to do them. Then, the last three weeks, I also integrated taking every test that you can take online that Kaplan offers. Every one. Five? These are timed. And all of the Kaplan quizzes. Then I took the three (?) that are offered by ETS for free with the PowerPrep software. Then I attended a free live test offered by Kaplan. Every single time I took the test my score went up. And this is, remember, after I had already spent a month or two learning everything I could. Yes, by the last month, I was studying every single day for several hours. I cannot stress enough that if you can already do basic arithmetic and very basic algebra, taking a math class is not going to prepare you for the GRE. I hope that this information is helpful. If you have more questions about the math or verbal sections, do not hesitate to PM me. Best of luck to you!! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

Genomic Repairman Posted March 2, 2010 Share Posted March 2, 2010 Just get a copy of a Kaplan text book, which will tell what types of questions (algebra, probability, etc) they ask and how to solve them as a quick refresher. But if you want to do science you need some math classes, at least up to the Calc I level. Best of luck. And once again seadouche its still not surprising to see you acting like a condescending asshat, I really couldn't expect more from you. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

DrFaustus666 Posted March 2, 2010 Share Posted March 2, 2010 Quick question: what college math class to take that is also the most helpful GRE review opportunity? Short background story... this year my ass was officially whipped by unanimous grad school rejection. The common reason after a bit of feedback (and a healthy dose of honest self reflection) is that my low quantitative GRE score combined with a very unusual interdisciplinary undergrad degree is what tipped my "maybe yes" to a "hell no." I recently also came the stubborn conclusion that I should take some regular math classes to balance out my knowledge foundation. With my funky degree I somehow managed to avoid taking any regular math class, and instead somehow talked my way into taking lots of statistics courses (20+ credits worth) up through grad level classes. The combo of weird academic history, and being out of school for a while, has left me scratching my head wondering what class would fill some of my knowledge gaps AND help with general GRE review. Where to begin? What class would be the most beneficial math review and useful for GRE studying? Would you recommend math 70 (introductory algebra), math 90 (intermediate algebra), or math 111 (precalc with college algebra)? For the math placement test I could take any of them, but what would be the most useful? BEGIN RANT This is not advice, but rather an expression of sympathy plus a BIG rant! Some of you may have seen my posts about the math section of the GRE under other threads. CoffeeCoffeeBuzzBuzz, I also had a very poor undergraduate background in math (one 3-credit course entitled "Math for Teachers of Subjects Other Than Math") and it was MUCH easier than my high school math was. (I made it to Calculus I in high school.) Born in 1952, I am also quite old compared to most of you, but I want to earn a PhD before I die. To wit, I have done EVERYTHING that people have recommended short of hiring a private tutor: (1) bought every GRE book I can find and worked every math problem in every book until I can understand every nuance of every problem -- I even found about 100 typographical errors in Kaplan's "advanced" Math book ("Your Only Guide to an 800"). (2) made flash cards, memorized triangles (30-60-90, 45-45-90, 3-4-5, 5-12-13), circles, arcs inscribed in circles, concentric circles, calculated x "in terms of y", a baker's dozen other formulae, including the formulae for areas of all kinds of simple geometric figures, "the work formula", high school algebra formulae including the slope-intercept form, the point-slope form, how to find an x- and y- intercept, how to find and graph an equation given only two points, how to find and graph an equation given only the slope and one point, how to find a standard deviation, and how to calculate combinations and permutations. After several months of assiduously doing all of this, I still scored only a 690 on the "Quantitative Reasoning" portion of the test. That's not a bad score, certainly ---- but I'd scored a 670 previous to that with NO PREPARATION AT ALL. I DON'T GET IT. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET INTO THE 700 (preferably 750+) RANGE ON THE QUANTITATIVE SECTION??? (Rhetorical question. I don't really expect an answer, but any suggestions are welcome.) CCBB: I'm in the same boat as you, I want to score high on Q and am at my wit's end. END RANT Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

asha Posted March 2, 2010 Share Posted March 2, 2010 I know that I need to do the GRE I know that also need to move towards fullfilling my math class pre-req's I have limited time to do both Do I - A- take a less challenging math class (intro algbra) and study the GRE more? or B- take a more challenging math class (precalc) and study the GRE less? Now, what would be the most useful class to take to fulfill both of my goals? Is this even possible? What matters more in the grad school application process? C- take precalc, calc, AND study for the GRE You're looking for a magic pill. There is no magic pill, I am sorry. If you are a "science" student who has somehow successfully avoided math, and then done badly on the quant GRE, then these two things just reinforce each other to adcoms. If you want to take a chance that you can get admitted to a science program without calc, then only do up to precalc. I wouldn't take that chance, plus it's MUCH easier to just do them one after the other than to wait a year in between. You can easily do them in two short summer sessions at a community college. I would think it would make your application look much stronger to take calc. If the programs you're applying to require linear algebra, there is no way they will admit you if you need to take 4 classes to get there. They just won't. As others have said, there is no way around getting a good quant GRE for a science program. It's boring as hell, but you're going to have to spend time learning the test. I'm lucky to be one of these people that just do well on standardized tests. I am really thankful for that! anxiousapplicant 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

DrFaustus666 Posted March 5, 2010 Share Posted March 5, 2010 You need to realize that the GRE is more about strategy than it is about memorizing formulas. They are testing whether or not you can implement various strategies or shortcuts to solve these problems, not whether or not you are skilled at computing them directly. Spend time practicing common strategies to solving problems, whether it be guess and check, back solving, estimation, using properties of numbers, whatever. When you see a problem, you need to stop and think "what is the quickest strategy I can use to solve this problem?" instead of immediately trying to solve it computationally. Every problem has a shortcut. Find it every time and you will ace the test. Hi Seadub, Part 1. Thank you ! for your reply. YOU DID IT FOR ME. I believe you identified the missing link that I need to get my coveted 90+ percentile score on the Quantitative portion of the GRE. I've spent most of my free time in the last several days doing exactly what you suggested: I've gone back to old problems, and looked for the TRICK in the problem, for the peculiarity, even eccentricity(!) that transforms an apparently difficult problem into a moderate- or even easy-level problem. I've learned it: Simplify exponents, look for and factor-out relationships between coefficients, look for distorted drawings of triangles (it looks like isoceles, but can't be because of the lengths of the legs), watch out for totally extraneous information in word problems, etc., etc., etc. You're obviously a very smart person, well above the average graduate student, at least in quantitative, and I'd suspect, probably in verbal & writing too. Part 2. After thanking you for your very insightful remarks, which I'm really psyched to believe may help me increase my Q-score by 50 or more points, may I make a constructive and friendly criticism of your posts ? I believe you've hurt a number of people's feelings, and annoyed many more, by your ultra-matter-of-fact comments. As one post remarked (sorry, I can't remember who it was), it's not what you say that causes people heartburn ... it's how you say it. I'm telling you this as a friend, because I suspect your personal life might be a bit lonely. Try to say and write things in a less direct and more empathic way. Not everybody is a math whiz. Not everybody has a vocabulary of 40,000+ words. Not everybody is academically gifted. But everyone DOES have gifts, some in completely different areas. I've researched the subject for example, and discovered that social workers, who have a low-paid, largely thankless, difficult, and sometimes VERY demanding job --- Social workers --- Do not (as a group!--there are certainly many individual exceptions)--score in the upper 10th percentile on the GRE. But they are still wonderful human beings and make essential contributions, even live-saving contributions, to the society in which we live. So, my unasked-for advice for you, and please take it as constructive, friendly, and well-meaning .... is to try to see things from the other person's perspective ... try to understand every person you meet as a human being with feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears FIRST ... THEN look at their academic achievements, their IQ, their GPA, their alma mater, whatever. Wishing you well ! And again, THANK YOU for supplying me with the missing puzzle piece which I think will really help me. John Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

coffeecoffeebuzzbuzz Posted April 4, 2010 Author Share Posted April 4, 2010 FYI - I opted for taking pre-calc (math 111), with the plan to take the second pre-calc class in the summer, followed by a year of calc and maybe linear algebra if time permits. Sitting in the class I found it to be much easier than I expected, I am used to teaching myself without the guidance of a structured class or someone that I can ask questions from. I think my ongoing problem has more to do with my difficulty with standardized testing (especially CAT style or the kind with a specific "strategy") than my quantitative skills. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

DrFaustus666 Posted April 4, 2010 Share Posted April 4, 2010 FYI - I opted for taking pre-calc (math 111), with the plan to take the second pre-calc class in the summer, followed by a year of calc and maybe linear algebra if time permits. Sitting in the class I found it to be much easier than I expected, I am used to teaching myself without the guidance of a structured class or someone that I can ask questions from. I think my ongoing problem has more to do with my difficulty with standardized testing (especially CAT style or the kind with a specific "strategy") than my quantitative skills. Thanks. My initial letter above indicated that I thought I'd found the missing link ... and that is PARTIALLY true, but in the meantime I've decided to follow your model--I'll take several refresher math courses at the local community college (10 mins drive away). I seem to have forgotten a lot, some of which maybe I should just MEMORIZE, like all those silly questions about the properties of numbers. Eg., "how many three digit even numbers with a 5 or 2 in any digit are there between 200 and 800?" ... I really have to ask myself, "What on EARTH is the purpose of a question like this?" BOTH from the perspectives of (1) "What are they (ETS) trying to test??" (How fast the test-taker can work out a non-brute-force strategy, most likely) ... AND from the perspective of (2) "Is this something anybody will EVER use again once a good test score is under their belt??????" That's the question that really defeats my poor non-quantitatively-oriented mind. Even the silly, detested, and all but universally scorned 6-point essay writing portion of the GRE has some relevance by comparison. (Yes, grad school teachers--not all, but a good portion of them---DO give final exams with essay questions). Ranting about things over which I have absolutely no control Have a great holiday, everyone. Congratulations to all who "got in" ... and "chins up!", "don't be too down-hearted" and "try try again" to those who didn't. I've read in several different sources that admissions committees have been more selective than ever, due to the poor economy. First, MORE people are going to graduate school to either improve their job, or instead of taking a (non-existent) job; and second, in general, there is LESS grant/fellowship/TA money available, so there are more people chasing fewer { insert currency unit of your choice }. Best to all! John Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...

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