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Test Taking, Part 3

If you’ll permit me this small indulgence, gentle reader, this week I’d like to return to a topic from last month. More precisely, I’d like to continue the series of posts that discussed how one best ought to prepare for an exam in which all N questions are given beforehand, and one knows that M questions will appear on the exam, of which the student must answer K. In my first post I discussed this problem in the context of preparing essays, while in my second I discussed it in the context of preparing for the US citizenship exam.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thought this a worthwhile problem. This problem has also made an appearance at the fun-filled blog Mind Your Decisions (it’s an excellent discussion, so if this kind of thing suits you, check it out). In the comments section, discussion on this problem continues; in . . . → Read More: Test Taking, Part 3

Addendum to Math Gets Around: The Humanities

Last week we discussed an example of when a mathematical background might prove useful even in the least quantitative of liberal arts courses. More specifically, we asked the question: if a teacher gives you a list of N questions, tells you that M will be on an exam, and you must answer K of the questions given on the exam, what’s the minimum number of questions you should prepare to guarantee that you will be able to answer K of the questions on the exam? (Answer: N + K – M.) We also looked at the question probabilistically – namely, we saw that of the questions appearing on the exam, the number that you’ve prepared for follows a hypergeometric distribution.

As a concrete example I considered the case N = 6, M = 5, K = 3 – in this case, the minimum number of questions you should prepare to . . . → Read More: Addendum to Math Gets Around: The Humanities

Math Gets Around: The Humanities

Unless you’re one of those suckers who goes to a school that administers final exams after the holidays (like I was), the few weeks after Thanksgiving can be quite a stressful time for students. Between exams, final papers, and working out holiday travel plans, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. For students with a quantitative bent, the days are undoubtedly spent in large part trying to memorize formulas or theorems, or on refining their understanding of certain problem-solving techniques that have been covered in their courses.

If your interests are more in line with the humanities, you may think that you are safe from the pull of mathematics. There are occasions, though, when a working knowledge of mathematics can help even in a liberal arts course.

Spicoli certainly could've benefitted from a stronger math background.

Consider the following example. Suppose you’re enrolled in a course for which the . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: The Humanities