## CSETMathGuru: THE Site for Single Subject Math

**Tackling Test Anxiety and repeated Failure**

There are those afflicted with congenital Text Anxiety i.e. they were

*born*that way, feeble and fragile and need to be Handled-With-Excessive-Care [

*of course*, I jest!], and others who owe their nervousness to a chronic absence of success. The former feel the onset of anxiety even when well-prepared,

*en route*to success...and could secure relief via breathing exercises!

The larger endeavour requiring remedy that

*can*be controlled by the candidate is dreading the test, having taken it several times already. Of course,

*repeated*failure likely indicates insufficient knowledge / mastery of content matter and / or a lacuna in test-taking skills [

*part*of which is anxiety-management]. Very likely, a combination. [Here, I shall accept kudos for Excruciating Banality.]

In the former case, one

*ought*to simply master, at the least, come close to attaining it...asymptotically [what the deuce?!], the syllabus as laid out at the CSET website. There are no short-cuts, paved picturesque roads that may be traversed untrammeled and effortless. One should aim for rigour, for it is that that shall mark the able instructor in the classroom.

Yes, it

*is*a platitude to declare that those that fail to pass the SS Math CSET aren't adequately prepared. In my experience tutoring candidates, I've observed characteristics prevalent amongst my own students at school: there are those that DO Math and emerge triumphant, and others who merely LOOK AT Math and worry at the adverse outcomes. The latter chaps sit recumbent with a textbook, reading the examples and nodding sagely in apparent comprehension:

*Oh, it all makes sense!*, they exclaim merrily moving on to "master" the next section.

Query them about their preparation and they shall unintentionally reveal their application, or lack thereof:

*Oh, I've LOOKED AT the material! I've LOOKED AT my Notes!! I've LOOKED AT the California State Math Standards!!! I've LOOKED AT the Practice Qs!!!*and so on. Is it any wonder that their scores aren't quite worth LOOKING AT...several times?

While all subjects call for rigourous application for concepts to be grasped and reinforced, Math is somewhat

*sui generis*in its "requirement" of having to put pencil to paper: one may contemplate the chemistry that underpins one's cooking, say, or the biology relevant to one's garden, but idle rumination on finding the intervals for which one curve lies above another might not yield commensurate dividends. Actually embarking upon to resolve the Q might reveal obstacles not heretofore perceived.

CSET SS Math Subtest I, in particular, is quite challenging. One's efforts should, ergo, reflect the

*purpose*of the test: is one sufficiently equipped to

*teach*a High School Precalculus class. Even if Middle School is really one's destination.

In my case - however anomalous that might be! - given as I have countless tests [um, I imagine I

*could*count them, come to think of it, what!], I have indeed found myself prey to the usual apprehensions that bedevil others - fed as they are by uncertainty about outcomes - which I have

*then*sought to banish through robust preparation.

On test days, I am the very soul of equanimity - giving the Dalai Lama a run for his

__Renminbi__! - ...since I am seldom under-prepared.

**Preparing for the Praxis II Mathematics Pedagogy (0065) Exam**

The Pedagogy exam is all about how one'd go about teaching myriad Math concepts of a fundamental nature. The weird thing, of course, is that till one is actually in a classroom setting, one doesn't give much thought about instruction...after all, why would one ponder over it?!

Here's how I'd go about preparing for the pedagogy Praxis - I've examined the Syllabus & Sample Qs on the ETS site quite robustly! - and the following might offer a sliver of guidance.

I'd examine a Middle school and/or 9th grade Algebra I & Geometry textbooks, and spend time [~ 10/15/20 min!] contemplating Instruction and Assessment for each section.

I'd just write down a few teaching ideas with regards to:

* INTRODUCING the topic,

* CONNECTING the concept to the students' PRIOR KNOWLEDGE,

* EXTENDING the concept,

* ANTICIPATING the COMMON ERRORS that students might be prone to committing

* devising progressively sophisticated illustrations

* EVALUATING student UNDERSTANDING and APPLICATION [q.v. Bloom's Taxonomy]

Naturally, time constraints preclude doing this for every concept area pertaining to Middle School Math / Algebra 1 / Geometry.

But I'd surely examine the fundamentals viz.

Negative Numbers,

Operations on Integers,

Fractions,

Operations on Fractions,

Decimal Representation,

Ratio & Proportions,

Percentages,

Absolute Value,

Probability,

Linear Equations,

Relations & Functions,

Graphing and Writing Equation of Lines,

Parallel and Perpendicular Lines

Systems of Equations

Inequalities

Exponents,

Polynomials,

Factoring,

etc.

The mental exertion expended on even a sample of those areas shall be of tremendous profit, providing a "template" for rumination on the Test.

It may even be useful to talk to Middle School teachers about their lessons! [Inquire from the Principals of local schools about their highest-performing / reputed Math teachers and get their input. In my experience, most teachers are happy to give "those who seek" their time freely!]