gregbo (gregbo) wrote,

the little red regents book

This is in part a response to this post from unitarymatrix that I have been thinking about but haven't had time to write down.

Perhaps I just had a run of bad luck at the 'tute. The kind of help I needed at the time wasn't always available. What I really would have appreciated was a good set of sample exam problems with solutions (including explanations). As far as computer science requirements went, 6.003 (signals and systems) and 6.041 (probability) had taped sessions of instructors solving problems at the board. (BTW, 6.041 is no longer required for a CS degree.)

A key difference between Stuy and MIT was that there were many more exams per semester at Stuy than at MIT in the science and math classes. I remember my earth science teacher (John Orna) actually gave two tests on consecutive days. His justification was that there was so much material he needed an extra day to test us on it. Some people feel more exams are more stressful, but I would rather have more exams because a low grade on one has far less effect on your overall grade. There actually was a movement sometime while I was there to allow departments to give exams only on a specific days (e.g. Wednesdays for foreign languages, Tuesdays for sciences). Most of the teachers complied, but one, the notorious Phil Fisher (he once gave someone a grade of √2) refused on the grounds that he didn't feel the restriction should have applied to him.

So I was looking around to see if Regents Exams are still published. (In New York State, for most subjects, you had to pass these exams in order to graduate, regardless of how well you did in the class.) I found one that has a similar syllabus to the Trig Regents. Just glancing through it I see that calculators are allowed. We weren't allowed to use calculators; there were tables of logarithmic and trig values instead. There would usually be a problem that involved linear interpolation, which is what you needed to use when a value fell between two values in the tables.

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