What if I'm not that good at Math!??!

Discussion in 'Single Subject Tests' started by crillman, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. crillman

    crillman New Member

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    Aug 22, 2007

    Hi all...
    Former Elementary School Teach wanting to get into Single Subject Math.

    Planning on taking sub test I and II only. Read lots of great stuff on study material, however wondering if anybody out there WITHOUT a math background and might not be "the best at math" has taken and passed the CSET I and II test. (Background: Algebra I and II, Geometry, some stats)

    ALSO...how realistic are those sample questions on the CSET website. Are those sample questions realistic representations of the real test questions?

    I'm hoping somebody can make me feel a little better about my chances.
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 22, 2007

    Um. I believe it CAN be done, and if you're far enough south I can suggest someone who's helped people in your position... but it's definitely a challenge.
     
  4. crillman

    crillman New Member

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I'm in Orange County (Irvine).
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Please go to the User Control Panel (use the Forum Jump tool at the bottom of the page; it's the first of the choices) and enable private messages; if it doesn't give you that option yet, find a couple of things to post on and then try again.

    So what's got you wanting to be a math teacher?
     
  6. innovationguy

    innovationguy Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I understand the general apprehensiveness of candidates about taking a specialized Math test probably long after advanced topics ceased to be familiar. But it shall buck you up to know that from my interactions with hundreds of prospective Math teachers for the CSET in the last 4 years, about 90%+ of these chaps are either

    a) Elementary [/ Middle School] teachers, with very rudimentary Algebra skills, who WANT to pass the CSET since they wish to teach at a Middle [/High School] level

    OR

    b) Middle / High School teachers, with very rudimentary Algebra skills, who HAVE to pass the CSET [so that they might satisfy the requirements of the No Child Left Behind mandate]

    OR

    c) non-teaching professionals - accountants, lawyers, bankers, engineers, managers, etc - seeking a mid-life career change, again, with very rudimentary Algebra skills!

    Bottom-line: for the majority of my correspondents, a considerable time has elapsed since they took Math classes, with their current Math skill-level rather middling, even though they did reasonably well in the past. That is, they possess quite robust mathematical aptitude, only the techniques are somewhat "rusty"!

    Here's what it takes to succeed:

    a) ~125-150 hours of concentrated study for Subtest I and 100+ hours of intensive study for Subtest II [um, astute observers shall distinguish "concentrated" and "intensive"...Oh, I jest!]

    b) if you're currently employed full-time, considering those constraints, ~2 hours of skills-reinforcement DAILY + ~4-6 of skills-reinforcement on WEEKENDS

    or

    if you're employed part-time [or not at all], ~4 hours of skills-reinforcement DAILY [weekdays and weekends].

    If self-study is an issue, then I would recommend taking the requisite courses at a community college, or if time i.o.t.e. perhaps, secure a tutor if individualized instruction is preferable.

    Jay.
    http://innovationguy.easyjournal.com
     
  7. mommy3boys

    mommy3boys Companion

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I fall under the C category and right now I'm only taking the MS CSET and will tackle the Math subset I/II starting in October because although I am currently not working I will be going to school full time and I have 3 little boys (and we all know how boys/men suck the life out of you:) ) But I digress.

    The guidelines do give me some idea of the concentrated/intensive study that will be required to pass these exams (tentative for March 2008).

    Thanks for the insight.
     
  8. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Aug 22, 2007

    All five of the math folks in my credential program cohort fit into Jay's category C. BTW I think Jay means rudimentary in comparison to a math major. We all had the normal college algebra, statistics and calculus classes required of non-math majors.

    I have heard a lot of whining from category B just about having to take it. Most of them seem to have been successful, although they probably had to put in a good deal of preparation.

    I agree with Jay's estimate of the amount of work involve to prepare adequately.

    The CSET sample questions are more or less representative of the style of questions you will seen on the real test. But they certainly don't represent the breadth of the material you will be tested on.

    Bottom line is you should be able to pass CSET with adequate preparation.
     
  9. rtshark

    rtshark New Member

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I fall under the (a) category because I had no choice but to take the CSET Math exams. I had my Multiple Subject credential years ago, but it was pretty much useless since I only have a CLAD certification. From where I am located (Salinas Valley), they require a BCLAD certification because of the high percentage of Hispanic population in the elemetary school districts, and I have very rudimentary Spanish speaking skills.

    Nevertheless, I felt that I have made the right decision. Now if only if I could pass my remaining CSET Biology exam for job security reasons. I have taken the Bio tests four times and the scores are 203, 181, 208, and 211. I am currently purchasing an AP Biology book. The current books that I had were of rudimentary as best (the big Cliff Notes Biology book is good to cover some of the questions, but I felt that I needed an AP Biology book to get my score to passing.
     
  10. teach101

    teach101 Companion

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    Aug 22, 2007

    My friend took the prep course from LAUSD and it was wonderful. I used her notes to pass the CSET Math I. I missed Math II by 8 points (don't get me started). I had tried two times before that to pass Math I by studying on my own. But I am not a Math major or anything, I just excelled in Math in college and did tutoring on and off (Algebra). They are hard tests no doubt about it. I was not able to study material on my own. See if maybe OC Dept of Ed offers a class. There are other coursed noted through out this forum. Good luck to you!
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    rtshark, the information on side 2 of your printed score report could help you figure out what needs to change to get you through this.
     
  12. innovationguy

    innovationguy Cohort

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    Aug 23, 2007

    To directly address the "topic" What if I'm not that good at Math!??!, well, being "good" is a function of proficiency [subject matter mastery] and pedagogy [teaching ability: communication skills], and the former doesn't imply the latter, but I imagine lack of it shall vitiate learning grievously. So content knowledge is simply a prerequisite.

    And as we've discussed before, novice teachers shan't be assigned upper-level Math classes [Algebra II or higher] initially [read: 3+ years, often even longer!]. With a commitment to learn and grow, however, one frequently "blossoms" into a reasonably effective teacher. Like in an apprenticeship, it's only after year 3 or 4 that one hits one's stride and gets somewhat fluent with the "language" [in all its connotations!].

    A non-Math major colleague of mine - whom I respect immensely - solves ALL the problems from the following day's exercises the night before, and actually REHEARSES a "script" of sorts. On occasion, she seeks my help to grasp subtleties and nuances of a concept - how does one distinguish Permutations and Combination, for instance (a source of common confusion!) - and she asks very penetrating Qs of the Why and How kind, endeavouring to anticipate queries students might conceive. Not surprisingly, she has one of the highest class averages and pass rates in the Math department.

    In a lot of ways, teaching is an "act": prepare really well to avoid being "booed"!

    Jay.
    http://innovationguy.easyjournal.com
     
  13. HopJump

    HopJump Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2007

    One tip on the 4 constructed response questions (on all Math SubTests).... Write your responses as if you are explaining the solution to a student of medium ability. That will really up your scores as that is the level of detail they are expecting.

    I know this doesn't address the level of difficulty of the CSET questions, but assuming you've crammed and studied your heart out, it'd be a shame to miss points because you didn't flush your response out far enough....

    Oh, and Good Luck!
    Lorna
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    HopJump, that's good advice for all CSET exams.
     
  15. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2007

    I'm in Jay's category C and passed the CSET Math 1 exam on the first try (+++ out of 4 in Algebra, ++++ in Number Theory, and a check mark on 3 of the 4 Constructed Response questions). I probably won't be ready for Math 2 until the beginning of next year. I'm relearning by first building a foundation with basic high school materials and the "Demystified," "The Easy Way," "Sparks," and "Dummies" type of books. Then I'll be able to go deeper and will probably purchase Jay's materials. I have the luxury of being able to take my time and thoroughly enjoy the process. (Also, I want to understand more than just what is on the test.)

    However, I always considered myself very good (or better) at math. So, if you are telling yourself that "you aren't good at math", then I'll probably be the only one on the forum to be blunt. :sorry:
    1. Why do you want to teach it?
    2. With that kind of negative attitude, your success will be difficult to achieve.

    Now, if you meant that it has been years and your skills are rusty, that is another matter entirely. That was my case and success comes with studying.

    But if you mean that math has always been difficult and a challenge, then the very first things you must do are

    1) change your thoughts (to ones along these lines: I'm really good at math; I can figure out how to solve math problems; Once I learn how to solve a problem, I can apply the knowledge to solving related types of problems; and so on), and

    2) develop a love for the subject.

    If you do those two things, then you will succeed with enough preparation. (I recommend one test at a time.) If you can't do those two things, then perhaps you would be happier teaching a different subject. (I do not mean any offense and apologize if I have caused any.)
     
  16. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2007

    :oops: I just reread your post and you say "not that good" which is a lot different than "not good". To rephrase it in a positive light, you're "pretty good at math, but not an advanced math scholar". Can you succeed on the Math CSETs? Absolutely!
     
  17. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    Aug 25, 2007

    ALso, if you're in Irvine, and are also a visual learner, you could sign up for the OCDE CSET prep classes. I think they cost about $180-200 now which includes the work book but you're getting face to face help. I didn't have time for the classes and just bought the workbooks and they helped too...although I used lots of other resources as well.

    Good luck! I fall into category C and had not taken a "real" math course in a very long time. But, got through it with a lot of preparation. I thought the tests were quite challenging but definitely do-able.
     
  18. em7551

    em7551 Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2007

    Great practice tests

    If you have an interest in some great practice tests, let me know.
    emcnally@adelphia.net
     
  19. em7551

    em7551 Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2007

    Great practice tests

    If you have an interest in some great practice tests, let me know.
    emcnally@adelphia.net
     

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