Here at Open Universities Australia (OUA), to make sure our recommendations for students are spot on, we’ve decided to take some of our courses for a road test. This time, we’ve taken on a short unit called PREP05 – Basic Preparatory Mathematics to see whether it could really undo perhaps a less than enthusiastic relationship with maths in high school. Here’s our review.
Mary had 48 coconuts. If she ate 12 coconuts per minute, how many minutes did it take her to eat them all?
In any other field of study, perhaps the more pressing questions would be: How is Mary still alive? Has Mary been hospitalized? Has anyone told Mary how much saturated fat she’s just consumed? Maths, however, is a unique, slightly weird but wonderful subject. Brackets, root symbols, X and Y, long division, parabolas- it’s all magical stuff, but I think many of us can admit to having felt too confused or restless to fully commit to learning maths in high school. Maybe you couldn’t visualize how trigonometry could be useful in life, maybe you didn’t have a brain for numbers, or maybe you just didn’t care.
Maybe you’re reading this blog because you’ve had a change of heart… an epiphany, if you will, as to how maths can be useful in day-to-day life. Well, if that’s the case, you’re in luck. OUA has designed a short course called “Basic Preparatory Maths” (PREP05) to give you a second chance to strengthen those neglected math skills.
Who should study Basic Preparatory Maths?
There’s a range of different reasons that people enroll in “Basic Preparatory Mathematics” (PREP05). For the most part, people are looking for:
- A refresher before starting a math-related degree
- A solid foundation on which to build further math skills
- A way to gain confidence before starting uni
- A way to get familiar with the online learning environment
- A way to ease into studying, or to get the mind ticking before starting uni
So whether you’re embarking upon a degree with a focus on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), or just looking to fish out math skills from the dark and neglected corners of your mind, PREP05 has you covered.
What’s it all about?
PREP05 covers all the basic math areas in which you’ve likely become rusty (or have downright forgotten). It includes a number of topics: fractions, decimals, percentages, order of operations, indices, measurements, units and scientific notation.
Maths aside, this unit is also designed to simulate the university experience. You’ll submit two short assignments and take a final test. These tasks aren’t put in place to trip you up- instead, they encourage you to reflect on your own progress, and get you in the habit of submitting work as you would in a university course. If you meet all the requirements at the end, you receive a Certificate of Completion, which can serve as a useful piece of evidence to help you advance in your career.
Why it’s worth it
PREP05 delivers more than just math theory. You also have an online tutor for continual feedback and assessment – and yes, he or she is a real human. So if you’re someone who is umm-ing and ahh-ing about enrolling in higher education, this is a great way to test the waters and find out whether studying online is right for you. Better still, the unit runs 4 times a year before every study period, so if you’re considering a university degree (or waiting to start one), you can enroll in PREP05 to get your mind in gear for the ‘real thing’, whilst at the same time, gaining some essential skills.
What it’s like
All of your learning takes place within an LMS (learning management system), which is an online space that feels quite like a classroom. You’ve got neatly arranged materials ready to go, a tutor to guide you, and classmates to exchange thoughts, questions and ideas with. The course material is presented like a slideshow, allowing you to click your way through the topics. In addition, you’re provided with PDF’s containing further reading, plus workbooks so you can get your hands dirty with some equations.
Another great feature is the pre-tests and post-tests for every topic. Pre-tests help you measure your knowledge before you start studying, and post-tests identify progress you’ve made, and areas to improve further. They’re not mandatory, but for most students, they’ve been incredibly helpful. If you’re sitting there scratching your head in the pre-test, it’s probably a good sign that you need to work through that whole topic. If you nail it the pre-test, it’s up to you whether you want to skip that topic altogether.
At the bottom of your screen is a discussion forum, which feels surprisingly warm and homely for a virtual space. Students get actively involved, offering support to others and sharing questions about specific problems they’re stuck on. In the discussion forum, you’ll meet your PREP Coordinator, Tom, and the PREP05 tutors who are a great help both on the forums and via email directly.
The wrap up
OUA’s “Basic Preparatory Mathematics” unit has been met with a lot of love from people seeking a solid re-introduction to maths. This unit provides the perfect opportunity to uncover a love for maths you never knew you had.
PREP05 costs $55 AUD, or you can study for free if you enroll in PREP05 with another paid OUA unit of study.
To find out the next intake date, check out the OUA prep unit calendar.