When deciding between the MU123 and MST124 maths modules for my degree, I put a fair amount of weight on the diagnostic “Are you ready?” quiz for MST124. It said my results were good, there were a few areas I should brush up on, but overall I should be just fine on it.
I won’t start the module until 7 October, so I’ll have to wait until then before I throw their pants doused with lighter fluid onto a telephone wire and chanting, “Burn, liar! Burn!”
I just don’t know how prepared I really am. See, the OU have opened up a “revise and refresh” website for MST124. It’s amazing that they even do that. It has diagnostic quizzes with typical questions one might encounter on various MU123 blocks. Depending on how well you do on that, they have some cheat sheets for reminding you how to solve certain problems. (It keeps referring me to read blocks from MU123 … Uh … probably not worth it to buy the books on eBay.)
When I do those, I perform a bit better than I did on the MST124 AYR quiz. I note my weak areas, I study the sheets, and I do better. But it kept feeling like it was only checking a very, very narrow section of maths at that level.
So I went to my original plan for MST124 preparation: Khan Academy! (I can’t say enough good things about this site. My older son enjoys it about as much as he enjoys Roblox.) I’ve been working over there for about a week, now, shoring up as many weak spots as I can find, but that list keeps getting longer, and longer, and longer. The site can hone in on your weaknesses the way painkiller commercials claim their product can. And the areas of study can be very, very specific. Like … “Sinusoidal models word problems“. I have to decipher it before I can decide whether or not I know it and/or need it. (I apparently do know it. But good luck ever getting me to recognise it.)
They’re not that difficult to study, it’s just that there’s SO MANY OF THEM! I’ve “mastered” something like 650 identified skills, and have more than 500 to go. Granted, that’s for all the maths they can currently teach and evaluate on Khan Academy. I won’t need anywhere near all of them by the time I start MST124. But the skills can sometimes take an entire night. I’ve got a hundred and thirtysomeodd days until the module starts, and a lot of those are on holiday. In a lot of ways, the pre-study preparation feels harder than TU100 was.
Unlike TU100, though, I’m learning tons, not just practising. And the practise is definitely necessary to get me into fighting shape again for the module. And more practise. And some more. And it’s also fun. But that part isn’t different from TU100. I’ve really enjoyed my journey so far.
I won’t know until after I’m in the middle of it which was better for preparation: The OU MST124 preparation site, designed specifically for it, or Khan Academy, which is pretty much drinking from the fire hose. Or Niagara Falls. We’ll see how it goes.
One final bit for today: Results for TU100 will be in on 19 July. My tutor will give us a cheeky heads-up if we passed or not before that, but nothing more.