Technical Evaluation

Evaluating reasoning and creativity

Posted by M Vargas on October 14, 2017

Based on the math curriculum when I was in high school, I had a vague idea about the topics to consider for the technical test such as properties of exponents and radicals, linear equation systems, factoring, and basic geometry. I also wanted to make this test a little bit challenging, so the applicants could show they are not the kind of people who memorize formulas without understanding them. Besides, I did not allow the use of a calculator because the computations involved were very simple. I used questions that have been appeared in SAT and GRE math tests. Undoubtedly, some of these questions were difficult, but I needed to make sure I was getting students who were ambitious and perspicacious. In addition, I wanted to test their creativity, so I included some personal opinion questions.

I had my concerns about the difficulty of the technical test, so I talked with the teacher in charge of the math commission in high school, David Guano. He was my teacher when I studied there, and it was a pretty nice experience to talk with him once again. He told me that the test looked a bit complex, but all topics in the test had been covered, so the students, in theory, were able to solve them. He was also expecting to see the results. Some of my friends also reviewed the test, and they agreed that it was not an easy test, but they also stated that it was a good way to select promising students.

On October 14, 2017, the test was taken, and there were 26 applicants. Silvia Moya, the vice principal was surprised that almost all students who attended the talk were applying, and I was very glad to see the room where the test was taken almost full. They had 90 minutes to solve the test, and I gave them some instructions as calculators were not allowed, which response was an “oh nooo”, and that they should not even think about cheating because that was going to take them out of the process. After the test, I wanted to start grading as soon as possible to see how well they did on it, so I went to a cafeteria where I planned to be grading at least the math section.

While grading, I was very sad to see that most people did not do well on the test, and after two hours grading every single question of the math tests I realized that I had to grade not only if an answer was correct or not, but also the effort they did or if they were showing some kind of reasoning about the question. Two friends of mine also helped me grading some exams, so at the end of that night I had 18 people who showed, somehow, problem solving skills and creativity. They were notified via email to continue with the second phase of the application process.