Course Exam—MATH 271

MATH 271 (Linear Algebra II) is a three-credit upper level mathematics course that continues the study of linear algebra from MATH 270.  Mathematics 271 is suggested for students in the science programs.  The course covers intermediate topics in linear algebra such as general vector spaces, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, inner product spaces, diagonalization and quadratic forms, and general linear transformations and applications of linear algebra.  This course has no prerequisites and there is a Challenge for Credit option if that is of interest to you.

If you are worried that you are not prepared enough to take MATH 271, there is a Mathematics Diagnostic Assessment that you can take.  This online test contains seventy questions that will help you assess your mathematical skills.  Based on your score we will recommend which Athabasca University mathematics course you are likely ready to take successfully.

Linear Algebra II has five units, five tutor-marked exercises weighing a total of twenty percent, and a final exam weighing eighty percent.  The exam is written and calculators are not allowed during the examination.  To receive credit for MATH 271, you must achieve a composite course grade of at least fifty percent and a grade of at least fifty percent on the final examination.

Adam Barbour has been studying at Athabasca University since August of 2017 and has completed seven courses so far.  He started MATH 271 in in early August and he completed his course work for the course by the end of September.  He wrote the final exam mid-October.  He provides a brief introduction, stating “I am thirty-seven years old and I live in Spruce Grove, Alberta with my wife, two-year-old son, and six-month-old daughter.  I am currently enrolled (part-time) in the Bachelor of Science degree program majoring in Computing and Information Systems.  I also chose to do a minor in Applied Mathematics.  Right now, my focus is on the math portions of the degree.  I work full-time as the Shop Manager of a large heavy trailer dealership where we perform all manner of modifications and repairs to on and off-road trailers.  We also do various modifications to large trucks such as installing accessories enabling them to operate said trailers.  Those of you with little ones know that recreational time can be limited, so my primary individual activity right now is ball hockey a couple times a week.  I also make a point of reading every day.”

He describes MATH 271 as a “continuation of MATH 270 and advances concepts such as systems of equations, matrices, vectors, and dimensions.  The course also touched on real-world topics including genetics, computer graphics, and cryptography.  The course has five units with an assignment following each.  The assignments had five to six questions, and each is worth four percent of your final grade.  Depending on your writing style, each question averaged nearly a page of writing each for me.  There is no midterm, and the final is worth eighty percent.  All the assignment questions came from the textbook, so they follow the supplied material well.  The first unit was the longest but was strictly review of key concepts from MATH 270.”

Adam continues, “The final exam is written, has ten questions, and is open book.  I did not complete the exam in the three-hour time limit.  In my opinion, the exam accurately reflected the course and assignment content.  The exam was hard, but not impossibly so.  If you are familiar with matrix manipulation, you know how tracking a small addition/multiplication error can eat the minutes away.  Just as in MATH 270, there are no calculators allowed for exams.  I had to laugh at myself during the MATH 270 midterm as I had to very quickly recall how to perform basic arithmetic and factoring twenty years out of high school.  (Spoiler: Most of it came back in time).  If you are going to take these two courses, leave the calculator in your bag and do everything with a scratchpad.  Learn the quadratic formula.  I used Khan Academy as a refresher for factoring as well as a website when doing self-checks on answers.”

Overall, Adam would recommend this course, stating “I would recommend MATH 271 for most, though only if you are passionate about math or it is a program requirement.  It does count as a science course however, so if you took 270 and want to challenge yourself further, this would be a good course for that!”

Whether MATH 271 is a degree or program requirement of yours, or the topics discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning advanced linear algebra concepts!

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