Unit 5: Systems of Equations, Two Day Exam

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SWBAT demonstrate what they know about solving problems with systems of equations.

Big Idea

Open-ended problem solving comes BEFORE multiple-choice! (Because, what's more important?)

Day 1: Problem Solving

43 minutes

To close out this most algebra-centered of my Algebra 1 units, I give students a two-day exam.  The first day is for open-response problem solving, and the second day is a multiple-choice test.  I tell students that the ordering signifies where my priorities lie, and that I hope they understand why I think the problem-solving part is more important.

There are two versions of the first day of the exam:

  • Unit 5 Problem Solving Exam Version 1 sticks pretty closely to the kinds of problems students have seen over the course of the unit, and starts with a few context-free systems to be solved.  I give this exam to students who have struggled during the unit, and need to show me at least the essentials of what they've learned.
  • Unit 5 Problem Solving Exam Version 2 consists of a few released items from the Grade 10 Massachusetts state math exam.  I've fleshed out a some additional steps for students to work through on each problem.  I give this exam to my honors class and to any students who have been successful so far.

Day 2: Multiple Choice

43 minutes

As I have described at the end of other units, I think that it's important for my students to practice answering multiple-choice exam questions, because for now, they remain a hurdle that students must leap on their way to a diploma and a wealth of post-graduation options.  But I don't want to prioritize such structures too much.  I use the free version of Problem-Attic to create my unit exams, because the site has released items from a wide variety of state exams.

I give students all of Friday's class to complete this part of the exam, and I run a quick item analysis to give individual grades.  I share the details of my item-analysis process at the end of Unit 4.