Failing the validation exams intentionally

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by frenzymando, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    Right now I'm taking AP Calculus BC and I'm doing fine in the class. I've also taken some practice AP exams as well and done fine on them. However, I don't think I know how to do calculus very well, or at all really. I don't really understand why I'm doing things in calculus, I have just memorized how to do things in calculus, and I have a pretty good memory so it makes it look like I'm pretty good at calculus when in reality I don't know what I'm doing. For example, I'll see a problem and I'll recognize that I'm supposed to use integration by parts to find the answer. So I'll use integration by parts and I'll get the right answer, but I'll have no idea why I used integration by parts. I just memorized that I'm supposed to use integration by parts when I see certain things pop up. In other words, I know how to find the right answers but I don't understand the concepts.

    Because of this, I'm worried that if I try on the validation exams I will pass and be placed in a high level calculus class and do poorly because I don't actually understand the basics of calculus. If I just fail the validation exam on purpose, or just leave the entire exam blank, could this cause any issues? I'm planning on majoring in a STEM major so I feel like I need to understand calculus very well or I will struggle later on down the road.
     
  2. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    Just select 'C' for every answer and sleep the remaining time

    Many classmates used it for napping

    Possibly frowned upon by the super high achievers but more than acceptable in the cooperate and graduate crowd

    Whether you want to be a STEM major or not - USNA is difficult to pass academically without a solid foundation in calculus

    Whether you want to or not - the majority of your classes will be STEM based
     
  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Don't intentionally fail. Just take it to the best of your ability. You don't have to validate. You can sit down with the department after and discuss your concerns and start at Calc 1 like most Plebes will.
     
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  4. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    Sounds like my entire Academy math career.
     
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  5. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    Have you considered putting in some extra effort to try and understand the concepts? Try Khan Academy or similar to see if you can get a better understanding.
     
  6. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    I tried doing that but the problem is I've already learned everything through calculus 2, so there is a lot of stuff I have to try to understand(in a fairly short period of time) and a good chunk of it is not easy to firmly grasp just by reading my textbook or watching videos. Most of the Khan Academy videos I have seen are just explanations of how to do problems, which isn't really the issue for me. I feel like I would be better off if I just took the class over again.
     
  7. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    Interesting. I read a psychology book that debated; is memory retention the same as intelligence? Albert Einstein never memorized anything that he could find a reference to guide him. In your case I feel maturity and life experience will play a great deal with developing your ability to apply what you have learned.

    I had hired a kid one time to maintain the engines on my boat. He knew how to exchange parts but had know idea how they worked. It took time and experience for him to understand the system. But he was persistent with his desire to study and learn, which was his greatest asset.

    This applies to you in the same manner. Learn the math rules and one day the light bulb will go on and you'll say "oh".

    Do the very best you can on your test and don't cheat yourself for things you want and have worked hard for.

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
  8. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    There is a big difference between getting the 'theoretical' side of math and being able to apply it in an engineering class.

    I wasn't the best math student, but when taught how it applied in civil engineering or mechanical engineering it worked out fine

    Take the test and do your best. USNA is not in the mode of validating a class for you for the sake of it. As NavyHoops said if by chance you validate it, you can speak to the department and likely be placed appropriately.
     
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  9. Sawndog

    Sawndog Member

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    If you are wanting to become a STEM major, you want as solid as a foundation in math as possible. Taking more advanced math will seem more difficult initially than what your classmates are taking, but it will pay dividends when you are taking actual difficult STEM courses. I did Electrical Engineering and it is very calculus-intense.
    Also, validating courses will create space to take courses that YOU want to take outside of your major. For instance, despite being an EE major, I am taking Engineering Management courses my last semester for fun and I am absolutely loving it!
     
  10. Felix Rosa

    Felix Rosa #Dream#Future#Success

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    I wish I had your memory, dude. I'm the guy that answers many questions during math class (Calc AB) and anticipate lessons, but when it comes to tests and applying my knowledge, I struggle. I think I'm more of an analyst than a practical student in math and physics. I like to see the logic of everything, not just the numbers(i don't like numbers, lol) ..that's why I'm worried about the validation exams (recognizing what to do in each problem, mostly with old concepts).
     
  11. BlackKnight2016

    BlackKnight2016 Member

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    This is from a 2/10/16 post about taking AP classes, but it also goes to the question of trying to game the system and intentionally not validate a class. WP will always push you out of your comfort zone. Be ready to be challenged and understand you have a great support system to back you up. They put all the effort to get you there, they won't let you fail.

    "DS is a Firstie this year and I can share how this turned out for him 3.5 years ago when he started. Received 5's on AP US History and AP European History and was able to validate out of Plebe US History and World History, but in it's place he took the senior level class Art of War a full year 2 semester class every Firstie has to take that encompasses history, political science... an in depth understanding of major wars. Even if you validate out of class, your schedule must still be filled up with similar classes and in this case as a plebe he is thrown in with Firsties to take Art of War. Did fine with the class and now in his Firstie year it has opened up two spots in his schedule that quickly got filled up with a capstone project and research project with a professor. He was rewarded for those AP classes but it was 4 years later when he got to choose how to fill up the empty slots.

    For what its worth, here is the other side. He took AP Calc and received an A but chose not to sit for the AP test. He wanted to take calculus over again at WP so he could learn it their way. He figured without the AP test score he would automatically get slotted for 1st semester calculus. During plebe testing at Beast he tested high enough to validate out of calculus and move into 2nd semester calculus. Since he didn't have the outside test score to lend credibility to the GPA or the plebe test, he had to take the plebe test a 2nd time to prove he had mastered first semester calculus. The best laid plan backfired on him and trying to game the system doesn't always work. WP will always push you to go further than you think you can.

    These are very specific scenarios and may not be the norm, but I have read enough to know this is a good indication of how the system works. Best of luck with your decision."
     
  12. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Honestly no one should be stressing or worrying about a validation exam. USMA has been around for a very long time and has given validation exams for decades. Do your best and where you land is where you land. It's nothing to stress about.
     
  13. bookreader

    bookreader Member

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    @frenzymando , my cadet is wondering the same thing. He is also planning on being a STEM major. He has taken several levels of calc at our local county college, but he has been given advice from many engineers (who are working in the field) and they have all told him to start over with Calc 1 at whatever school he goes to. They have told him that every college teaches it a bit differently and for this reasin, it's best to learn it from the begining the way the university wants you to learn it.

    So, on the one hand, I agree with @NavyHoops and know that USMA knows what it is doing with the validation exams, but on the other hand, there would be advantages to starting again at the begining.
     
  14. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Anyone thinking of sandbagging the validation/placement exams, USMA will often resection plebe courses midterm and you'll be move up to a harder section.

    Just take the exam, do your best and it'll be fine.
     

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