Monday, December 6, 2010


I took both Mathematics II and Physics. I was unprepared for both.

Let's start with MATH II.
This one requires a calculator, preferably graphing, but scientific is also accepted. Of course, you can do it without one at all, but not very well.

Now I happen to have two calculators at hand. See:

The scientific one I bought 4 years ago, in 7th grade. This faithful brick has been at my side for all my important tests (except the math ones, my teacher hates calculators, for which I thank her). It only rarely refuses to turn on, but this can be fixed with a solid whack and it's good as new. It's limited in logarithms and exponents when compared to more recent versions, and a bit scratched up, but functional nonetheless.

The graphing one is a wonder of modern technology. It's the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. Follow this link to see everything about it. Nice display, will graph, anything the other one can do, it can do better. It even has a periodic chart. It always turns on. I bought it this year.
Fancy name for something I couldn't use.

Really, have never used it in my life, and taking a test with an average of 72 seconds per question is not the time to start. So I didn't. I used the one with a whimsical battery, no graphing capacity, and whited-out numbers (to dissuade classmates from borrowing it without permission. I lent it to a friend and she returned it with the numbers written in ink over the white out. Then I have another friend who pulled out the keys on his and rearranged them. No one can figure out how to use that one.). Although, let me clarify, it is approved for the SAT II, many fellow testers had the same one and were using it with (probably) more success than I.

Excuses, excuses!

I also didn't study. However, I will defend this idiotic decision by pointing out that I was at a beach side resort the three days prior, getting sunburnt in the morning and partying till the next.

The test had a few things my calculator (had I known how to use it) would have saved me on. Matrices, logarithms, so forth, but I have only myself to blame. Interestingly enough, the test asks you a series of background questions first. These determine what level of math you have seen in school, and what kind of calculator you're using. Since "electronic brick with choleric batteries" didn't make the list, I choose scientific calculator. Abacuses also weren't included, which I consider a pretty big oversight (kidding, I can't use those, either).

All in all, I left an estimated 10 questions blank (of 50) and got God knows how many more wrong. Luckily, this test has a pretty generous curve, so I may have gotten a score I could admit to without hiding ostrich-like in my denial.


No calculator allowed, so everyone was at as much a disadvantage as I was. Hah!

On the other hand, they may have reviewed their formulas beforehand. In a similar case of irresponsibility and procrastination, I didn't realize those weren't included until the night before, at which point I huddled worriedly in my blankets and tried to remember the formula for invisible ink (lemon, to be revealed over a flame; or vinegar and water, to be revealed with purple cabbage use). I couldn't use it for two reasons: 1-I can't take either a cabbage or a candle into a test discretely, and 2- I have a conscience.

So I took the test fairly, with only my mind at hand. Actually, judging from the results, it was a bit further from me than it usually is. I left more questions blank, probably less than 10, but still quite a few. The questions weren't hard, I had worse on bachillerato (<-- Translation: Ministry Tests seniors have to pass to graduate. Given in Math, Spanish, Foreign Language (English for me because that's the only one my school offers, French or Italian in other cases), Social Studies, Civics, and Science (physics, in my case, either chemistry or biology, in others')). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Honestly, I feel it was a waste of 70 dollars (extra fees for testing abroad) and 5 hours (including travel time. On the other hand, we did buy doughnuts on the way back). I can only hope the scores will be high enough to let me send them to some schools.

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