Infamous 3-minute quizzes test math skills

Functions, stats and trig students take a 3-minute quiz Monday afternoon. Students have three minutes to do five problems without a calculator, receiving extra credit for finishing in less than a minute. Photo by Sarah Vanstory.

Quizzes show students can work without calculators

The six words every Wabaunsee student dreads. “Put away calculators, three-minute quiz” has struck fear into the hearts of high schoolers for years.

A three-minute quiz is a no calculator quiz that includes a combination of five math questions that relate to different areas taught in Roger Alderman’s math classes. Students are given three minutes to solve these problems. If all problems are solved correctly and the quiz is finished within the first minute, students can earn extra credit.

The problems put on the quiz are usually simple and can be solved with mental math and a little effort, but the time constraint means not every student is a fan. “I don’t like three minute quizzes,” sophomore Jordan Magette said, “they stress me out because I’m always trying to finish in the first minute.” Other students, however, enjoy them because they don’t often require much effort. “I actually like them because they’re easy,” sophomore Raegan Feyh said.

Three-minute quizzes originated when Alderman ran into the issue of students depending entirely on calculators. “It was kind of frustrating always hearing the complaint that kids can’t do anything without a calculator,” said Alderman, “I decided to come up with something to test and show that, yes, our kids can still work without a calculator when they need to.” The three-minute quiz gives students a chance to use their brain and exercise skills that they have learned throughout their years in school without the aid of a calculator or iPad.

The three-minute quiz has become so infamous at Wabaunsee that it has become synonymous with all things relating to Alderman’s class. It even lead to a practical joke pulled on Alderman a few years ago. “Some kids wrote a three minute quiz on my driveway so I went ahead and solved it,” Alderman said, “I don’t know for sure who it was, you’d have to ask around.”

The culprit, in fact, was Wabaunsee’s very own Kyle Schmitz, Josh Wurtz, and Maddy Michaelis. “I was just cruising through the neighborhood, thinking about three-minute quizzes, and I thought I might as well write one on his driveway,” 2018 graduate Kyle Schmitz said.

It is often included in graduation speeches and has become a common memory between Wabaunsee Alumni. “I don’t know exactly how it’s taken on a life of it’s own the way it has. Over the years I developed the delivery for how I introduced them and suddenly that, for some reason, caught on,” Alderman said. They seem to get mentioned all over the place when they were just this little simple thing I came up with years ago.”

— Emma Frey, @_emmafrey_

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