College Placement Exams and Practice Tests for College Placement

OK, I understand that when you’re getting ready to go to college, it’s important to know/remember your “basic” math skills. But seriously, why do they make you relearn/study the stuff you spend the LEAST amount of time learning about in school?! Who spent a huge amount of time learning about percentages and converting them 3 different ways, and then learning how to convert them back?

Maybe if you were an accountant or a mathematician then, yes, I can see the importance of such things, but I don’t remember the last time I studied about decimals, fractions and percentages in math. Yes, you learn about it A LITTLE, but really?! They must want these kids to fail this exam! I mean, I’m not a math whiz in the slightest, nor am I completely clueless either, but you spend more time learning about angles in shapes and degrees than you do learning about percentages and the like.

To make matters that much worse, I graduated from high school 2 years ago, and went through tutoring for math all through elementary school, and some more through middle school, and STILL had questions for my teachers through high school. Obviously I suck at math and suck even worse at it when I’m not allowed to use a calculator! Maybe if, for certain math things, they wouldn’t let you use calculators so much, then I wouldn’t feel so much like an idiot for forgetting how to solve some of the easiest math problems by hand. Granted, yes, you need a calculator for math like degrees in shapes and sin, cosine, and tangent etc, but if colleges expect us to figure decimals, fractions, and percentages without calculators then maybe, just maybe schools shouldn’t let us use calculators so freely.

Looking at some of these questions I just want to pull my hair out. I read the question, and follow how they’re solving the problem – Ok I get it. After I go further down and learn how to do these other ones, I just want to throw stuff and quit. Here’s a problem I’m working on – “A refrigerator is on sale for 25 percent off. If the sale price is $492, what was the original price before the sale?” If something is on sale, why would you stand there and MENTALLY try to determine the original price? Yeah it’s good to know if you can find a cheaper one, but these days, they just have the original price crossed out so that way you can see the original price. The way they’re solving this problem, my eyes want to pop out of my head.

The further and further into these study problems I go, the more I shake my head. Yeah in school you learn about absolute values, but I don’t recall needing them to be multiplied, divided etc. in a specific way. Yes there’s the order of operations, only I swore that we only used it for huge problems that have numerous things that needed to be done, like exponents and parentheses. It could just be that I didn’t spend enough time paying attention to math in school, since I was so bad at it to begin with, but I’m pretty sure that these college placement tests are meant to doom us, and show us all how dumb we are.

Maybe arithmetic just isn’t my cup of tea, but just browsing over the algebra portion of what I have to study, that’s where my brain is saying, “FINALLY! The stuff I remember is actually here somewhere!” The joys of plotting graphs, and being told how to multiply and divide numbers, remembering polynomials and everything else that is purely algebra! Luckily I passed Algebra 1 my freshman year of high school with either an “A” or a “B”, and did pretty well on Algebra 2. Even though I’m not a math genius, I think algebra is more my forte.

Then again, why is it only math that you really need to study for? Shouldn’t we study some English and stuff too; or are they simply assuming that because we solved a word problem properly, that we can read English and understand what it’s telling me/us? What I’ve always wanted to know is when you take the ACT or SAT, what do those weird numbers actually mean? If I got a 460 on math, does that mean I fail at math, or does that mean I’m the average kid? If I got a 750 on English and writing does that mean I’m a genius? Can someone please explain to me what those numbers mean, because they were never explained to me, and I don’t remember what scores I got?

What makes studying for this placement test the slightest bit enjoyable, is watching Harry Potter at the same time. It’s funny getting so frustrated with math, and hearing what Daniel Radcliff has to say, like in the Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry’s Aunt comes to eat dinner and they’re talking about the fake school he goes to and Harry replies, “Oh yeah! I’ve been beaten LOADS of times!” I’ve been “beaten” loads of times by these dumb math questions! Since when did absolute values become so dang complicated?! Do they ask these weird questions to see if you can handle “college level” math? I know when I learned about absolute values, all I was taught that the absolute value of any number is going to be positive, even if the number is negative. So I don’t see how absolute values can be negative…

Regardless of the ridiculousness of some of these questions, I managed to get an 80% on the practice final exam on the arithmetic portion, and now that I’m on to the algebra portion of units to study I’m extremely curious to see if some of these questions will turn out to be just as ridiculous. Even though I REALLY need a break because I’ve been studying this stuff since like 10am (it’s currently 6:15pm) and I’m slowly getting tired, I still have to study all the algebra units and take the algebra practice final exam.

There are 10 units in algebra that I have to go over and review, and then take the “final exam” for it all. My brain is currently fried, so I think I’ll call it a day and do everything tomorrow so that way Monday I can take my actual placement test, and finally get myself enrolled in college. I know I’ve procrastinated long enough in getting myself to school again, and since I finally figured out what I want to go to school for, I’m almost accomplishing my goal.

Since Christmas is right around the corner too, I think it’d be a great Christmas gift to my dad to give him a copy of my schedule, so he can see that, Yes I’m actually doing something with myself instead of working minimum wage jobs all the time and barely getting by, with a 2½ year old toddler, and another baby on the way. Good job me! College Placement Test…. I hate you, but I will do well on this test and succeed in school!

Guest post written and submitted by Heather P. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Heather P, and engage with her and fellow Hush Hush fans and Twilight book fans.

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