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Mathfax stresses comprehension, principles

As each Mathfax student receives a blue test sheet, they try hard to remember all the axioms and principles they have learned. Apprehension rolls through the room like a wave. This is no ordinary math test. Problems that seem impossible to unravel are answered easily, and with one simple step.

Unlike most math tests, where one must think logically and reasonably, Mathfax challenges students to think outside of the box and be creative. It tests a student’s ability to comprehend principles rather than solve problems.

“I think the Mathfax tests are a little tough,” Esther Tarudji, ’05, said. “But I’m glad we take them because I learn a lot.”

Founded in the fall of 1996, Mathfax was created to “sharpen the participating students’ test-taking math skills that are needed to do well on college entrance exams,” according to the Mathfax website, Many high school math teachers turn to Mathfax tests to give their students a challenge.

“I give out Mathfax tests to my honors classes because I really think that it helps students learn how to take tests successfully,” Lonnie Godfrey, honors math teacher, said. “Mathfax helps students prepare for tests such as the SATs, PSATs, and college entrance exams.”

A nationwide competition, Mathfax is set up into divisions according to school sizes. Then, each honors class competes against classes of the same level and subject. Campus students compete in the private schools division against approximately 15 other schools.

Godfrey’s students through the years have placed remarkably high in the Mathfax competition, both in the Private Schools Division and nationally. After taking the first Mathfax Test, handed out on Nov. 7, Laura Berg, ’04, placed 1st in the Private Schools Division for geometry honors, and is currently ranked 5th nationwide in the Geometry Honors Division.

“The Mathfax tests aren’t fun,” Berg said, “but they are challenging, and I like the challenge they give me.”

In the three years Godfrey has been administering the Mathfax tests, FC has placed first in the Private Schools Division twice. The present geometry honors class is currently ranked first in its division.

The next Mathfax test will be given out to the honors math classes on Dec. 5.

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