View Full Version : Calculator limitation
09-02-2003, 04:08 PM
Another reason to quit using NCESS.
Ever try to take a exam with a calaculator you are not familiar with.
I am so accustomed to HP reverse polish I can not even use the math portiion of my HP48GX. or any orther "normal" calculator.
If NCESS has a problem let them write a new test every year as it has been done.
Limiting the test to certain calculators has more than one drawback:
First it limits the examinee to a calculator they may not be familiar with, which will probably mean the difference between passing and failing the test.
Second it further hinders the examinees to calculators that are not in everyday use, which does not produce a accurate test result.
Third, this indirectly creates a "monolopy" of calculator manufacturers.
If NCESS is as innovative as they want us to believe they are, I am sure there is a better way to correct THEIR problem, without hindering the examinees.
09-08-2003, 12:10 PM
And everyone I've asked has used multiple 48GX calculators with a cogo card in one, perhaps a state plane coordinate cogo card in the next, and an extra one just in case. They've said they couldn't have done the exam in the allotted time withough a cogo card.
I want to use a ranger!
Hank Berg, PLS
09-08-2003, 02:57 PM
Just what is the big problem with calculators in the exam room? It seems we are missing the big question - is the individual qualified to sit for the exam?
When I took the PLS exam at San Francisco College in 1965 I used a Curta and a book of natural trig functions for the State Coordinate problems and for the traverse/triangulation problems.
No pre-programmed routines, no DMS -> to Dec. Degrees functions, no built-in trig functions, no polar to rect. functions, etc.
I did have many formulas and math routines memorized, and the calculator I used [borrowed for the exam] was not the Friden I normally used in the office!
Somehow I managed to pass the exam on my first attempt without a fancy programmable mini-computer setting in front of me. Are we becoming a bunch of computer-crippled candidates preparing for the PLS exam?
How in the world did the original GLO surveyors manage to survey the PLSS without a HP or TI hand-held!
09-08-2003, 04:38 PM
No fair. You had slide rules, which were the calculators of the day. There's not enough time in the exam to complete the surveying material without turning it into a math quiz.
Hank Berg, PLS
09-09-2003, 06:52 AM
Yes, slide rules did exist [I had a K&E slide rule]. However, they did not carry enough significant figures for survey computations.
I passed the Missouri PLS exam in 1962 using a 7 place log tables [learned from ICS surveying course and U.S. Army Engineer School math course].
However, in the 50's and 60's we did most of our computations using the "long-hand" method without the benefit of logs or calculators.
When I moved to Marin County, California I was introduced to the Curta "pepper-mill" calculator which was a giant step for surveyors [though the sport cars rally clubs had discovered the Curta before the surveyors - great for computing elapsed times, mileage corrections, etc.]
I personally don't think the type of calculator used in the exam is the main issue. One needs to have a solid foundation in land boundary surveying - have varied experience - and adequately prepare for the exam.
And, as it has been my experience [over 40 years] - I have used a variety of hand calculators, office computers, and dozens of Survey/COGO software packages. I have attempted to remain flexible and adaptable in my everyday surveying activities as I worked with a number of consulting engineering firms and land surveying companies.
And, remember that the "unnamed" company has dropped certain hand calculators over the years - requiring users to adapt to a new model.
09-12-2003, 01:27 PM
It is NCEES
09-12-2003, 05:53 PM
It would be nice to have a test that did not require a calculator, but we need to test using currant practices, of which calculators are a large part.
Requiring a person to take a test with a tool that he/she is not familiar with is unfair and not a real test of the persons knowledge.
Many people take more than one calculator to the test in case of euipment failure.
Actually I prefer NCASS.
Dave Karoly, PLS
09-12-2003, 06:54 PM
I took and passed the April 2002 LS exam with an HP32SII. Thankfully my batteries did not die because I did not have any spares or other calculating device. There were people in their with two or three high-powered HP calculators (48s?) AND some type of data collector. I don't need any more calculator in my everyday working life because we have computer software in the office and data collectors/loggers/controllers in the field. I didn't want to buy a several hundred dollar calculator just for one exam so I took my chances with my HP32 and didn't have a problem.
09-12-2003, 07:13 PM
This is the liveliest thread this board has had.
09-17-2003, 08:22 AM
With all due respect, the test you took in 1965 is VERY different from the tests being given now. With the secretive nature of the state exam its unfair to question the need for a particular type of calculator without being familiar with the makeup of said exam.... and NOBODY talks about the exam, right? (wink, wink) I haven't worked on the exam since 2000 and while a high powered calc isn't absolutely necessary, it does free up time to crank through as much of the exam as possible
Like Mr. Karoly, I passed in '96 with a HP42 but I had loaded up a few necessary programs, but it would have been nice to have had a 48. Unfortunately, this recent episode is similar to the announcement a few years back that they weren't going to allow any 'Qwerty' calculators in. What the hell is a Qwerty? Why didn't they just say typewriter style?
09-17-2003, 08:31 AM
I think they should just go right ahead and ban calculators made after 1985 and require people to bring their own log & trig tables.
No one does cogo calculations by hand, everyone uses a data collector or computer of some sort. Prohibiting this technology is artificial and just increases the stress level.
09-17-2003, 10:10 AM
I can't figure what the problem is. If the NCESS is worried about calculators that have wireless communication devices, then have the candidates show the calculators to the proctors. If there is any modem cards in the slot, the proctor can remove them, and put a seal on the calculator. If the proctor sees a broken seal or a calculator without a seal being used, throw the candidate out.
09-18-2003, 12:58 PM
good idea Dwight
didn't you have a chainman that passed the test with a Abacus
Hank Berg, PLS
09-18-2003, 01:31 PM
Either you have it - or not!
I've taken the PLS exam in five states - passing in each state on the first try!
Yes, the exams are difficult but if you have the experience, education, and a helpful mentor - you can succeed no matter which calculator you use.
I've taken an exam where I studied extremely hard on selected subjects which I thought the exam would cover - only to discover that the topics were tested in the previous days exam! An in-depth knowledge of land boundary surveys, control surveys, pre-design engineering mapping, business management, client relations, etc. will greatly enhance your chance of passing the PLS examination.
Don't make the calculator issue your whipping boy!
Best wishes in your studies.
Hank Berg, PLS
09-18-2003, 02:59 PM
No he uses his fingers and toes. / \
09-18-2003, 03:17 PM
no shirt - no shoes - no service!
09-18-2003, 03:26 PM
<Either you have it - or not!> I agree.
<I've taken the PLS exam in five states - passing in each state on the first try!> I don't know which states and am only familiar with California's test so will reserve my comments.
<Yes, the exams are difficult but if you have the experience, education, and a helpful mentor - you can succeed no matter which calculator you use.>
If you reread my post you'll see that I passed the exam in '96 using an HP42, a calculator with even less ability and power than an HP41.
<I've taken an exam where I studied extremely hard on selected subjects which I thought the exam would cover - only to discover that the topics were tested in the previous days exam!>
So you passed the exam without in-depth study of the topics covered....what does that say about the test you took?
<An in-depth knowledge of land boundary surveys, control surveys, pre-design engineering mapping, business management, client relations, etc. will greatly enhance your chance of passing the PLS examination.>
I agree with much of this, but business management? Client relations? Those studies would be a waste of time on modern exams. How about GPS? State planes? How about questions that neither an entire study group nor LS's can figure an answer for? That's what today's candidates are dealing with.
<Don't make the calculator issue your whipping boy!>
I'm not sure which post you were reading, but I certainly wasn't BLAMING the calculator, only saying that you were making a judgement on the abilities of the candidates based on an exam you took almost 40 years ago. That test was written differently and it was certainly scored differently (curve vs. criterion based). I have worked on the exam and I have seen the exams from the 60's through 2000 and my observation is that the test itself is more difficult than in earlier years and that the possibility success becomes more dependent on the use of newer calculators.
Lastly, the passing percentage of California candidates on the national exam was higher than the national average. Still surveyors like yourself, who passed many years ago and have not been a part of the last several year's exams, continue to blame the candidate's lack of preparation and study for the poor results.
I don't want to trivialize your experience or abilities, I'm just asking you to reserve judgement on a subject with which you seem to be no longer familiar with.
09-18-2003, 03:39 PM
I took and passed the LS exam this past year. The test was hard but fair. The problem is that some of the questions on the test ask the candidate to make decisions in a hour,( 4 essay questions-4 hours), that in the real world would take several hours. On top of this the questions can be faulty.
09-18-2003, 03:59 PM
Mr. Busalacchi, do you feel that the calculations required on the exam would have been more time consuming if you had been limited to a basic scientific calculator, without memory or cogo functions, but with trig & log functions?
09-18-2003, 04:19 PM
YES! A Cogo pack is necessary, due to time limitations. Most important, is to study each discipline thoroughly and write down the equations needed to solve that problem in a note book. Add drawings and references to the book you copied them from. This give you a quick reference so you don't have to stumble through your books. An example, I have compiled 36 pages of notes, equations and references from 4 published books and 3 different seminars I went to on State plane coordinates. Do this with every discipline and you will pass the test just from the work you will put into the compilation of notes.
Hank Berg, PLS
09-18-2003, 04:47 PM
States of registration [now or previously licensed] -
Missouri, Illinois, Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
Previously obtained in-depth knowledge of land surveying was essential for my passing the exam for which I had spent many hours of study on some subjects which were not covered in the exam. The test was excellent and tested in areas of practical everyday type survey situations. I believe I used a HP-25C calculator for this exam.
And, I don't know how long you have been in the surveying profession Gary - but some of the biggest stumbling blocks for PLS's are in the area of management and client relationships.
In fact, I would venture to say that the public's perception of surveying is shaped by their relationships with individual PLS and field tech staff members. They may not understand GPS, TSSS, photogrammetry, etc. - but they do relate to bad communications, poorly supervised surveys, faulty research, non-returned telephone calls, delayed projects, etc.
Perhaps the PLS exam should be extended to three full days of testing to include the important business/client aspect of the profession.
Gary, this thread has been interesting and has challenged some of my thinking about the PLS examination. Keep it up - you may teach an old survey dog some new tricks.
Hank Berg, PLS
09-18-2003, 09:22 PM
Thanks for being open minded. I've been in the surveying field for 17 years, the last three as County Surveyor. In the past I have been very involved in an LS study group and fortunately each year someone has passed and carried on.
<I would venture to say that the public's perception of surveying is shaped by their relationships with individual PLS and field tech staff members.>
I agree with your observation. I think this is one of the major problems with our profession and why the 'Model Law' must be taken very seriously.
Three day test? =-( I'll let you spearhead that one!
09-19-2003, 06:47 AM
Just out of curiosity, how would the Model Law affect the calculator issue, the California exam issue or the client/surveor relationship issue?
Since the calculator ban is FROM the NCEES, as is the Model Law, where are you going with this arguement?
Are you, instead, proposing a Nation License voiding all state issued licenses? Areyou really all for allowing survey crews from Georgia ($25/hour for Party Chief and Rodman TOGETHER) being brought here by XYZ National A/E/C? Do you really want to allow the surveyor who has lived and worked in a Colonial State all of his life to come out to California on a vacation and file an RS just for fun?
09-19-2003, 07:19 AM
WOWSIE! You got all that from my post? Mr Berg and I had been talking about the public’s perception of surveyors and I agreed with his statements of poor business practices and the public’s general ignorance of what we do. Perhaps I should have said ‘take the THREAT of the Model Law very seriously” to make my opinion more clear.
Well, at least we know where you stand on it!
Hank Berg, PLS
09-22-2003, 06:27 AM
Thought about your previous posts [over a relaxing weekend] and perhaps I'm comparing apples with oranges!
Have you been addressing the first day of the PLS exam, the second day of the exam, or both days [re calculator situation]?
And, you may be right on the calculator situation [what - have I admitted I may be wrong!!!] since the last exam I passed was in Florida in 1982. The exam content may have changed since then.
Hank Berg, PLS
09-22-2003, 07:26 AM
To Concerned PLS's:
I believe it is very important to include survey techs [office and field] and survey interns [SIT's] in local PLS chapters.
We should encourage membership to non-professionals and pre-professionals to further their understanding of the professional aspect of land surveying, mapping, etc.
And, the social interaction with other firms to learn of their methods of conducting their operations is extremely useful and educational.
What's your thoughts on this?
Ooops - hi-jacked the thread; sorry. :~)
11-20-2003, 03:28 PM
Attached is more information regarding the NCEES Calculator ban.
vBulletin® v3.6.4, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.