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My Examination in Mathematics

On the day of the mathematical examination, I arrived earlier than usual at the hall. I knew the syllabus well, yet there were two questions which my tutor somehow managed to pass over, so they were quite unknown to me….I sat myself on one of the back benches and pored over the two questions on my list, but I wasn’t accustomed to working in such a noisy room, and they gave me less time to prepare than I thought, so it was hard for me to study all the information. Suddenly, there appeared before me another student, who seemed quite confident to me. “What are you reading?” he asked me. “Aren’t you sufficiently prepared yet?” “Yes,” I answered him, very much wishing he would just disappear. “Except in two questions. I don’t understand them at all.” Volodya began to try and explain them to me, but he went so rapidly and unclearly that I began to doubt his knowledge. He saw the confusion in my face, and he blushed bright red. My friend Dimitri stepped in to rescue me. I could see that my friend was in the best of moods, which was always the case with him when he was especially pleased with himself. It was one of the things I had always liked best about him. Dimitri knew the mathematics perfectly well, and more than that, he could speak clearly. He hammered those questions so thoroughly into my head that I can remember them to this very day. Finally, our examiners said “Enough!” They told us to draw our tickets, each with an unknown question in mathematics. “Suppose I get the two I don’t know,” I thought to myself, as I drew my ticket from the pile on the table, my hands shaking. I turned it over. HORRORS!! It was exactly what I had not wanted!! Everything is lost, I thought to myself. Instead of the brilliant result I was hoping for, I would now be forever covered in shame! As it turned out, though, I answered my question well, for my friend had explained to me just in time. When it was all over, the teacher kindly informed me that I had done even better than required, and that I had place 5th out of all the students taking the examination that day


Now that you have read the passage, write just a couple of sentences on each of the questions below. Write clearly, so that if you were trying to explain this story to your friends, they would be able to understand it.

1. Where do you think this story took place? Are there any clues that make you think it might be somewhere besides the U.S?

2. In line 10, the writer of the essay says he wishes the other student would “just disappear.” Why do you think he wants this student to disappear? He says his friend Dimitri “stepped in to rescue me.” How is Dimitri rescuing him? From what?

3. Can you describe how the writer of this essay probably felt before his mathematics examination? How do you think he felt after it was all over?

4. If you were in the room with the writer of the essay, what could you say to him to encourage him and help him calm down?


Next to each word listed below and underlined in the text please write a simple explanation of the word. You should make it short and clear, so someone who didn’t know the word would immediately understand its meaning after you gave him your explanation.







In the introduction to this passage, the word "excerpt" appears. The word excerpt starts with the prefix “ex,” which means “to bring out from.” An excerpt is a passage or part of a book or poem, or even a piece of music. If there is a part of a book or a play or a piece of music that we find very interesting, we can "bring it out" of the whole, to look at it alone.

First, look at the words given here. They all begin with the prefix “ex.”

Excite – it means to cause great feeling or emotions to “come out of” a person.
Exhale – If you take a deep breath then let your breath out, you are exhaling. Exhale means to let your breath out. It is the opposite of inhale.
Examination – A test to bring forth, or bring out your knowledge. On your test, you bring your knowledge “out of you.” Hopefully, anyway!
Exit – the simplest of all the “ex” words. It means exactly it says. It is the way out. We all know that one.

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN! Can you think of 3 other words that start with “ex?” List them here, with a good clear sentence for each one. Try to make a sentence where your reader would know exactly what your word means, just by reading your sentence. For example, “There are no living dinosaurs today, as they all became extinct millions of years ago.”

Who is the author of the text "My Examination in Mathematics" ?

I hope you have a lot of fun with our first except. I think it will be very exciting for all of us in our class to write back and forth, expressing our ideas among ourselves, and making comments about what each of us has said. I’m eager to hear your replies!! To start writing about what we've read.


Answer each of the following questions:

  1. What tense is this excerpt written in? We know that “tense” refers to the time the action is occurring. If this piece written in the present, future or past tense? Give several examples that support your answer

  1. Sometimes a word can be used in different ways, and as a different part of speech. Let’s look at the word “run.”

· For example, you could say, “Run fast! It’s good for you.”

· Or, you could say, “Joseph enjoyed his three-mile run very much.”

The word “run” is a different part of speech in each sentence. Can you tell what part of speech it is in each sentence?

  1. The word “rescue” in the 13th line of the excerpt, “Dmitri stepped in to rescue me,” can also be used in different ways. Write one sentence where “rescue” is used as a verb, and one sentence where “rescue” is used as a noun.

  1. There are many words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. The word “pored” in line 4 is such a word. Think of another word which sounds like “pored,” but which has an entirely different meaning. Write a sentence using that word.

  1. Finally, can you find a compound sentence in this excerpt? A compound sentence is actually 2 sentences, each with their own subject and verb, joined together with “connector words,” like “for,” “but,” “and,” “so,” etc. There are several compound sentences in this excerpt. Find one of them, and give the subject and verb for each part of the compound sentence.


Write one paragraph about taking a mathematics exam. You can be totally honest, you can write humorously (that would be nice), you can share any thought or opinion you like. Your goal is to both inform and entertain your reader about what you go through as you approach a school math exam.

Last modified: Wednesday, 21 January 2009, 01:01 PM