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Freshmen Pass Math Diagnostic Exam

By Eva Moy
Associate news editor

About three-fourths of the 1,131 freshmen who took the Pre-Calculus Math Diagnostic had adequate performance or satisfactory performance with weaknesses in one area, according to Margaret S. Enders, assistant dean of curriculum support. The results will be used to aid freshmen and their advisors during registration.

"The idea here is to offer a test, the results of which do not show on a student record, and therefore can only serve as a benefit to the students," said Sy D. Friedman PhD '76, professor of mathematics, who will teach Calculus I (18.01) this fall.

"To pass the first test, a student had to earn more than 70 points [out of 100] total and more than 17 points [out of 25] on at least three of the four parts," Friedman said.

This year, freshmen took longer, on average, to complete the test, Enders said. "They took it more seriously, I think."

"On the whole, students did better than last year," Enders said. She added that she felt most students were reassured by the results.

The diagnostic tested algebra, geometry and analytic geometry, trigonometry, and exponentials, logarithms and complex numbers. Questions were graded with partial credit awarded.

What happens next?

Freshmen who did poorly last Friday will take a similar test on Registration Day, according to Enders. Those who still score below the cutoff of the second exam are strongly urged to take Calculus I (18.01) and Physics I (8.01L), a new, slower-paced version of 8.01, Friedman said.

Students will also be encouraged to attend review sessions, study review modules, and pass a tutored exam on the diagnostic materials, Friedman said. Students can take the test as many times as necessary, but they should pass by Sept. 18, he added.

Although scoring above the cutoff on the math diagnostic is not mandatory, a passing score earns the first 100 points out of the total 1100 points of 18.01, according to Friedman.

Students who score below the cutoff and do not take 18.01 should try to attend the review sessions. "It's going to be a problem if this material isn't passed," Friedman said.

"I was pleased with the results from this first diagnostic. ... The results were better than I expected," Friedman said.