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My favorite bad exam target: Math B (and a puzzle)

June 23, 2009 am30 8:35 am

I don’t like high stakes tests (I think necessary testing can be done in a way to reduce the stakes, and lots of testing is not necessary). And I don’t like bad math. And, if you read this blog you know, I hate Math B. How much? Take a look at some of these old posts:

Challenge problem. Go to the NY State Regents Exams and open the June 2004 Math B exam. Answer the circle problem (#33) using the arcs/angles. Now solve it again, using the relationships between the segments. They contradict, right?
Now, the challenge. Are the numbers they supplied possible, or impossible? Explain.
9 Comments leave one →
  1. a.r & v.e.m.t. permalink
    June 24, 2009 pm30 4:13 pm 4:13 pm

    Is there a posting of yesterday’s Math B June 2009 regents anywhere online? Hope so – wanted to look at the exam. I understand the cut-off conversion raw score is 47.

  2. July 3, 2009 pm31 5:11 pm 5:11 pm

    (Not been around for a while, busy – sorry to dig up an old post!)

    Anyway. I don’t understand you. I’m looking at the circle problem, about the “machine part”. I’m not familiar with the notation in the first half of the last line, but I assume it’s telling me the ratio between arcs TA, AR and RT – which allows me to position T, A and R on a circle of arbitrary size. The only other information I’m given is RA (which allows me to size the circle) and AP (which allows me to position P given the size of the circle and the positions or R and A). Unless I’m missing something, which is definitely possible as tired as I am, I need all of this information to specify the problem – so how can I solve it using only part of it? How can there be a contradiction?

    All I can think is that you want me to assume PT’s a tangent at T, but it doesn’t say so.

    Doubtless I’m being dumb. Please advise.

  3. July 3, 2009 pm31 5:13 pm 5:13 pm

    You’ve nailed it, of course.

    New York State assumed they were giving the kids a tangent. But the angles and the lengths support a non-tangent segment, with much harder math involved than they intended.

  4. July 3, 2009 pm31 5:43 pm 5:43 pm

    Ah, OK. Does your rubric allow you to assume that a line meeting at T is tangential?

    If not, it’s actually worse (because I did think, wow, that seems like a pretty tough question – but I don’t know the metric here :)). A weaker kid will assume it’s a tangent and get full credit for getting it wrong, and – worse – a stronger kid won’t, and will get it right, and very likely get it marked as wrong!


    Unrelatedly, I’m very glad to see you back posting regularly and more on math :).


  1. Math B comes to an end « JD2718
  2. What will the Algebra II Trig Regents look like? « JD2718
  3. Are These Tests Any Good? « Mr Honner
  4. The Terrible Trapezoid « Mr Honner
  5. The Terrible Trapezoid « Mr Honner

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