Sections 3 & 4 LARE candidates are handed a simple calculator to use during the exam because only simple math is required to pass.
Here are some things you won’t be asked to do for a one point question:
Complex Rational Method calculations involving runoff coefficients of various types of ground cover;
20th century style TR55;
Average End Area Method volume computations;
Determine soil pressure at the toe of a retaining wall slope in pounds/sq.ft.
Must you know what these and other mathematical operations are, and when (or when not) to use them? Yes, absolutely.
Still, simple math matters most in the LARE. Do you know the formulas for a circle's circumference and area enough to never confuse them? Do you understand the basics of stationing so you add and subtract the correct two numbers? [hint: see Site Engineering by Strom et al] Can you add and subtract the correct coordinate numbers to determine locations for things? Determine a footer size when given point load and bearing capacity values? Can you convert cubic yards to square feet and vice versa? Can you slow your mind down enough to divide or multiply the correct two numbers in basic landscape grading operations? Can you slow your mind down at all?
A simple math problem illustrating this last point is discussed in two books I recommend to LARE candidates interested in mind control as one way of dealing with test stress. The books are Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, and Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, an economics book and best seller. Both discuss one question from the Cognitive Reflection Test, or CRT. Says Gladwell, the CRT "...measures our ability to understand when something is more complex than it appears - to move past impulsive answers to deeper, analytic judgments."
Here's the math problem: "A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?" I won't give away the answer, but it's not what most people think. The question requires slowing one's mind down and thinking carefully, but not for terribly long - exactly the skills needed to navigate any good multiple choice test question. After you've picked your best answer, Google the problem and see if you're right.
The LARE is a points game you don't need a perfect score to win. You don't need a home run, but you need to get on base as often as possible. Make sure you snag all the one-pointers you can by thinking slowly and doing simple math with care.
Corson Learning offers recorded videos, live Q&A sessions, and live support to LARE Section 3 & 4 candidates. Cheryl passed the new format LARE in 2013.
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