PHYSICS 2210: Explanation of Diagnostic Exam
As part of our efforts in the Department of Physics Astronomy to improve these introductory courses, and to help assess your readiness for Physics 2210, we will be administering a diagnostic test to all students early during the first week of class. This test is not for credit; it consists of a few survey questions and then some diagnostic questions designed to assess your proficiency in algebra, trigonometry, and basic problem-solving skills. This test has been shown to be an accurate predictor for overall performance in this course. You can see from the graphs shown below, which include data from the course taught in Spring 2012, there is a strong correlation between performance on the diagnostic test and both midterm average scores (top) and final grade scores (bottom). In particular, students who scored below 7 out of 13 on the diagnostic test generally perform much more poorly in the course than those who scored 7 or above. The results of your diagnostic test will be made available to you quickly, along with a recommendation as to whether you are prepared to take Physics 2210. The recommendation is non-binding: you are free to choose whether you continue with the course. It is very important to understand that due to the large number of students in this course (~550 in all sections) and the need to maintain rigorous standards to ensure you are adequately prepared for more advanced coursework, course instructors will not be able to modify the course curriculum to accommodate a lack of preparation.
However, the Department of Physics Astronomy will offer a 1-semeseter, 3-credit preparatory course, Physics 1500, which meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 12:55pm - 1:45pm. The purpose of this preparatory course is to help you obtain the skills needed to succeed in Physics 2210 and in more advanced coursework.
In the event that the diagnostic exam indicates a lack of adequate preparation for Physics 2210, we strongly recommend that you consider taking Physics 1500 instead of Physics 2210 this semester. We will provide the results of the diagnostic test quickly enough so that you will be able to drop/add the courses without penalty. We realize that that many of you may not be able to accommodate Physics 1500 in your class schedules, even if it is recommended. This was unavoidable this year; we will try to move Physics 1500 to the same time as Physics 2210 in subsequent years to make this transition more feasible for everyone concerned.