### You don’t need to know differential equations to pass the CSCS exam

But having taken it wouldn’t hurt you, because in order to do well in higher level math like differential equations your basic algebra has to be rock solid. I know, mine is – and it’s a result of every EE class being essentially applied algebra and calculus. Yours would be too if you used it intensely for every major class you took.

If I missed a math question on the CSCS exam, it wasn’t due to my poor math skills – but due to an incorrect assumption or remembering something incorrectly.

This is where I can help you – **don’t miss a question because you suck at basic math.**

### What Kind of Math is on the CSCS Exam?

Sometimes on the exam or in the practice materials we will get a question that seems like it needs a lot of math. And often times it does, but we’re not talking differential equations or calculus here – just some pretty basic algebra and careful interpretation of the wording of the question.

I want to talk briefly about a thing called **dimensional analysis**. This is a skill that you have to be totally comfortable with to get anywhere in a science-based field. As an engineer I had to deal with all kinds of units, conversions, constants with crazy units – and this helped me in unexpected ways when it came to math questions on the CSCS exam, and even more so in life in general.

My advice here is to keep track of your units, and even make up units as you do your math. Make up units that are descriptive of the things they are calculated from. Much like force is described as a “kilogram-meter per second squared”

Basically it helps to keep track of units, because as you are multiplying things out and dividing and moving units around – you may suddenly realize (based on the units) what you are dealing with. This can help in kind of unexpected ways, conceptually speaking.

Let me show you what I mean with a question I made up. Take note that this question is *harder *than ones you would find on the CSCS exam. I believe having skills higher than those required on the exam is helpful in that it makes your skill level sufficient that your performance can take a hit due to nervousness, and you can still perform well enough to pass.

**can’t**accommodate the athletes

II. We

**can**accommodate the athletes

III. We need the facility open 1 more hour

IV. We need the facility open 4 more hours A. II only

B. I only

C. II and III

D. II and IV

Part of the trick to these questions is interpreting the wording into math. I like to think of this type of question in terms of **resources **and **needs, **then interpret those things into math.

Stay tuned for my next post to see the answer.

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