Hi, I am planning on taking the Generalist 4-8 test in April. I was told by my advisor, that one of the best ways to prepare for the test, is to cull through old textbooks. Does anyone have any recommendations that could help me pass the exam?

Welcome to A to Z, newtoclass. Old textbooks can be fine resources, yes, though some old textbooks can be remarkably difficult to wade through. You might want to leaf through the threads in this Multiple Subject Tests subforum - on this test, but also on other states' related tests - for other suggestions as to resources. Which subject areas in the test have you most concerned? (I do hope that the phrase your advisor used wasn't "cull through": to cull a seedling, for example, is to select it in order to get rid of it so the remaining seedlings will have more room.)

Ah, vocabulary. For science in teacher tests, my absolute favorite resource is Usborne's Science Encyclopedia, which was updated just last year (ISBN 978-0-7945-2629-0 or 978-0794525279). It's clearly written and gloriously visual, with hands-on experiments and Web links to follow for more information. Usborne also has a fine Dictionary of Math (or of Maths: Usborne's a British publisher, and one doesn't study "math" in the UK, one studies "maths"...) Can you get more specific about where you're hung up in math?

Okay, first some language. You can use a meter to measure, say, water use, right? Well, meter is Greek for 'measure'. And peri- is Greek for 'around' (the membrane AROUND your heart, for example, is the pericardium). So peri-meter is literally measuring-around, and specifically it's measuring around a polygon. For most elementary teacher tests, perimeter questions focus on rectangles or squares or the occasional triangle. Think of perimeter as, for example, the fence that goes all the way around a lawn. If my lawn is 20 feet long and 15 feet wide, the perimeter P = 20 ft + 15 ft + 20 ft + 15 ft, or 2 x 20 ft + 2 x 15 feet, or 70 feet - I'd need 70 feet of fence to enclose it. Area would be the expanse of sod inside the fence. Let's suppose for a moment that sod is sold in squares and that each square measures 1 foot on a side. Then how many squares do I need to sod the space? I can fit 20 along the long side and 15 along the wide side, so we could say I need columns of 20 squares each or 20 rows of 15 squares each - in either case, I'm going to need 20 x 15 squares, or 300 square feet of sod. Does that help, for starters?