I finished grading my Calculus 2 exams, and I usually spend a good chunk of the day handing back the first exams talking about study techniques to better prepare students for the material.  Often I fear no one is listening when I do this, so taking a cue from my study materials, I decided to wage a different attack this semester: a FAQ powerpoint with snarky memes.

Q: How bad was the test?

A: Let me put it this way:

Q: I don’t understand how I failed the test.  I got a 4 on the AP test and I didn’t even have to study.  This stuff has always come easy to me.

A: Let me answer that by rephrasing your question:

Q: What’s with the Dragon Stamp on my test?

A: You committed on of my 3 Deadly Sins of Mathematics: false distribution, false cancellation, and false integration.  The things I warn you against doing every day in class.

Q: But why did I get no partial credit?

A: Zoidberg…?

Q: Fine.  How should I study for the next test?

A: I test proficiency of technique, not mere recognition of it.  You need to practice the techniques until they’re second nature to you.  Said differently:

Q: Fine.  How do I get proficient?

A: First off… do the required quizzes, each and every day.

Q: Aren’t the exam problems are harder than the quiz problems?

A: I don’t think so, but wouldn’t that mean it’s even more important to get the quizzes correct?  Nevertheless, I gave you access to eight years of old exams so that you’d have an idea of what to expect.  For example, here’s a pair of problems from recent exams…

and a problem you had on yours:

Here’s a triple of problems from past exams…

and a problem on yours:

Here’s a problem taken off of the six most recent exams in chronological order:

and a problem on yours:

If you cannot see a pattern here, or you did see the pattern but never thought to learn to do the problem, well…

Q: Doesn’t that sound like a lot of work?

A: The university catalog says you’re expected to spend 2 hours outside of class for every hour inside it.

Q: Wait… you expect me to do work outside of class?

A: It’s up to you.  There’s always next semester.

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  1. Tr*st*n says:

    This is hilarious and I love the beer drinking college student meme!

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