The purpose of this test experience is to help you understand the material and make connections. Research has shown that the effort you expend in studying for tests and clearly explaining your work in writing solidifies your learning.

At the Exam

  • One 8.5*11 reference sheet with writing on both sides allowed. You can put anything you like on your sheet.
  • One scientific calculator or graphing calculator allowed (but no cell phone nor other calculators bundled in combination with additional technologies)
  • You may have out food, hydration, ear plugs, or similar if they will help you (however any ear plugs must be standalone--no cell phone, internet or other technological connections)
  • Partial credit will be given, so (if you have time) showing your reasoning or thoughts on questions you are unsure of can help your grade.
  • Your grade will be based on the quality and depth of your responses in the timed environment (the test must be turned in when time is called).
  • You will be expected to answer questions about any of the various items from class and on ASULearn. The test will be a mixture of computational questions as well as short answer or short essay questions on critical reasoning and reflection involving those questions as well as the "big picture" themes and more. There is NO need to write in full sentences - bullet points, etc. will be fine.

  • Here is a partial sample exam
    and some partial answers so that you can see and have some practice with some diverse examples of the formatting and style of questions. The actual test will differ.
  • Review class and ASULearn activities as the vast majority of exam questions are taken from there.
  • Here is an overview of topics. Be sure you could respond to questions on these. I want you to understand the material and I am happy to help! Computational Questions You will be given targeted finance questions with various parts, and this will form the majority of the test. These include questions on lump sum, periodic payments, loans and amortization, like
  • Benjamin Franklin's financial legacy lab
  • lump & periodic practice
  • Jane and Joan practice
  • lottery worksheet
  • loan practice
  • home decisions lab
  • car decisions lab
  • review practice
  • review problems

    Even if you achieved a check you might still have some errors, so be sure to use my feedback to help solidify your understanding.

    You can expect to have real-life scenarios that are similar to those we have seen. For instance, in part a) you might be asked for a monthly loan payment, in part b) the total paid, in part c) the first month's interest... So review the lump sum, periodic payment and loan payment scenarios as well as the total paid/put in, the total interest, the first months interest, "simple" interest...

  • Be sure that you could explain information given on a student loan statement or an Excel amortization table and that you could relate that information to by-hand formulas that we have used and answer questions on it. You will NOT be tested on Excel formulas such as =B3*$c$2, but you might be asked how to write down how you would get a number in an excel box using by-hand formulas, or you might be asked to use a portion of an Excel table (and your knowledge of how it works) in order to answer questions like how much interest you save when you pay extra money each month:
    If Excel showed:
    325     538.51     0.79     537.71     (385.27)
    then the total paid is 325*538.51 - 385.27 and the total interest is 325*538.51 - 385.27 - 84212,

  • Make sure that you understand the "calculator keys" that will work with the calculator you will have that day (no cell phone allowed nor anything bundled in combination with additional technologies).

    For the test, you might need to

  • write down the setup of the formula with numbers,
  • explain why (in words) the formula you chose applied to this problem,
  • solve the problem on your calculator, and
  • write down "math common sense" - did your answer make sense or not: For example, "we have seen that it is possible to double your money in about 20 years because it is sitting there a long time", or "it makes sense that the interest on the loan is more than the loan itself since the bank is loaning us a large lump sum up front, and we are taking a long time - 30 years - to pay it back. The bank could have deposited their money in a lump sum account instead of loaning it to us, and the money would have more than doubled in this account. Hence, we must pay back more than double the interest." If an answer doesn't make sense, you should say so.

    Other Directed Questions and Short Essay Questions

    You should review how we derived the formulas to see the applications of algebra:
  • lump sum philosophy
  • periodic payment philosophy
  • loan payment philosophy

    You should be able to answer questions like what algebraic operations were useful and you can review
  • notes from class on the algebraic operations within lump, periodic payment, or loan payment. You can also review:
  • periodic payment derivation
  • loan payment derivation

    You will also be asked to look at examples from the finance segment and discuss the similarities with the following themes:

  • Impossibility of checking all the cases, but finding a solution by shifting our viewpoint
    In the derivation of the periodic payment formula - we looked at the future value of each payment. Even though we found a pattern, it was impossible to use for long time periods since there were as many terms as compounding periods. So next we stepped back, shifted our view of it by transforming it by a common piece and then we combined the shifted equation with the original. The overlap cancelled to give us a general formula that was easy to use and only had a couple of terms. This involved looking at a change in view and organization that eventually simplified an impossible problem and made it possible to solve.

  • Impossibility of constructing a solution but finding a non-constructivist approach
    Thrifty Saver's account from The Simpsons
    Lisa: I got their new Thrifty Savers savings account, with 2.3% annual interest instead of the normal 2.25%, so a year from now, *I'll* have an extra nickel.
    .05= 100 (1+ .023/n)n - 100(1+.0225/n)n
    It was impossible to construct a solution since the unknown compounding period appeared both in the power and what was being raised to the power. So algebraic techniques cannot construct a solution [even logs aren't powerful enough for this problem]. Goal Seek in Excel also was not powerful enough to solve this for us, and gave us an answer that did not make sense, so we used the Equation Solver in Excel along with common sense and a "guess and check" perspective - this is not a constructivist proof, as it does not show us how or why it works. Instead the computer (or we) guesses and checks until it finds an answer [and then we use common sense to evaluate whether that answer suffices].

  • How the number of stars in the universe can connect to finance. Recall the Richard Feynman quotation: There are 1011 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.

  • Also think about
    local to global connections and see the local to global in finance glossary entry on ASULearn
    ethical connections to payday lending or usury
    diverse ways that people succeed in and impact finance theme and see the diverse ways that people succeed in and impact finance glossary entry on ASULearn
    truth and consequences (When are we convinced? What are the consequences of certain truths? What is the role of chance and probability?) theme and see the chance and probability and truth in finance glossary entry on ASULearn
    what is mathematics theme

    For instance, a question could be phrased like:
  • Name an instance where we discussed the theme of truth and consequence and the role of chance and probability. Or there could be more directed questions like:
  • Discuss how the reward/risk ratio and probability relate in comparing real-life Powerball lotteries to the stock market?
  • Discuss how the debt-to-income ratio precipitated the 2008 recession?

    Similar questions would ask about the other themes. Real-life considerations can be ill-defined and have multifaceted aspects. Whether it is counting the number of stars, understanding why the Franklin funds never earns 5%, or many of the other concepts, many cases require the critical and creative analysis of a variety of interpretations in order to fully consider the implications.
  • I want you to succeed!

    Here are a few words of encouragement that are adapted from Heart of Mathematics:
  • To really learn something new, you must experience it yourself via hands-on hard work and practice. We don't learn deeply by watching someone else. You could watch many movies about baseball, but in order to really learn how to play well, you must actually pick up a bat yourself.
  • The only stupid question is the unasked question.
  • Make mistakes and fail but never give up. Instead, learn from your mistakes and use them to grow.
  • Life is a journey - not a destination. Someone could give you all THEIR answers, but it is your experiences and what you've learned during the process that really matters.