Studying for a math test does not have to feel overwhelming. Test-taking in general can cause anxiety, but by managing time and honing good study habits, you can help to ease the stress. Although many people may find math challenging and test-taking to be difficult, here’s how to study for a math test to make it easier and be successful.
Top Reasons Students Lose Points on a Math Test
First things first, it’s important to remember these tips in order to maximize your test score. The most common reasons why people lose points on a math test include:
On any test, it’s of utmost importance to read the directions closely. See if you have to show your work or just provide answers. Many math tests offer partial credit if the work is right, even if the final answer is not.
2. Bad Handwriting:
Try to be as neat as possible so the person grading your test doesn’t misinterpret one number for another (i.e. a 3 for an 8). Also, some teachers may want you to box your final answer so it’s easy to locate.
3. Math Vocabulary and Concepts:
Math, like English, has vocabulary. Be sure to hone the vocabulary and concepts before a test so you understand what is being asked.
How to Study for a Math Test in 10 Easy Steps
Here are some of the top tips for how to study for math exams.
1. Start Early
Being prepared for a test starts with taking class seriously. Try not to miss any classes or lectures. While it helps to be in the classroom, it’s only useful if you pay close attention. When you don’t understand a concept, ask your teacher questions. Use the textbook as a resource and study a little everyday.
2. Do Your Homework
Homework is provided to reiterate and absorb the concepts from the lesson. Don’t copy others or skip it. When you do your homework, you are studying. By understanding basic math concepts, you can easily build to continue learning. If you see recurring problems or concepts, it’s likely those will be tested. Treat your homework like a study guide.
3. Try a Planning Approach
Rather than piling all your studying up at the last minute, try to plan ahead. Try to hone study skills and techniques to create good habits. Give yourself time limits and start studying 3 days before a test. As you get closer to the test day, you can lessen the load. Here’s an example of how the 3-2-1 approach works:
- 3 days before a test: Study all vocabulary, do a lot of practice problems, and review any answers you got wrong on homework (60 minutes).
- 2 days before a test: Review the vocabulary briefly. Perform 10-15 practice problems (45 minutes).
- 1 day before a test: Review vocabulary. Do one homework problem from each previous night’s homework (30 minutes).
4. Use Practice Tests and Exams
Many teachers will provide you with old exams to practice. Sometimes, you can even find old exams online. Rework these problems and go over the homework and notes. By creating your own practice test, you can try your hand at each type of problem to prepare for what might show up on the test.
5. Use Flashcards
As mentioned above, math does mirror other subjects in the fact that there are concepts and vocabulary terms to memorize. Along with these, you must often know formulas. As such, it is useful to make flashcards with the aforementioned items to help remember them. Sometimes, teachers will let you use a study guide on a test. If so, include vocabulary words and formulas. If not, try a brain dump. When the test begins, write everything down while it’s fresh in your head so you can refer to the list during the test.
6. Practice Online
7. Try a Study Group
Oftentimes, you may not understand a concept that your friend does. In these cases, it’s helpful to set up study groups and work alongside friends. Studying in groups can help keep you on track and learn from each other.
8. Set Rewards
Staying focused and studying in advance deserves rewards. As such, you can set up your own rewards systems based on what you like to do. For example, if you want to save up for a special gift, place a monetary reward in a jar every time you complete a homework assignment. After the test, go buy yourself a present. Or, consider rewarding yourself with self-care like a massage or a nice dinner when you successfully pass a test.
9. Get Good Sleep
Just as important as studying is getting enough sleep. There is research that suggests that memories become stable during sleep. Additionally, being deprived of sleep can detrimentally affect focus and attention. Therefore, when you plan when to study, make sure you can still get enough sleep.
10. Learn from Mistakes
After you get a graded test back, go over the mistakes and understand how to fix them. Since math concepts are known to build upon one another, it’s important you understand what was done wrong so that as the concepts repeat and build, you know what to do next time.
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When possible, try to apply math to real life. This can happen by applying math in financial management situations, baking and cooking, home improvement, at work and more.
Furthermore, when studying, try to do so distraction-free. Find a study environment that works best for you. Whether that’s a cafe, library or at home, limit distractions. You can do so by turning off electronic devices and only having the materials you need in your study space.
It All Adds Up
By taking your math classes and homework seriously from day one, you can alleviate unnecessary stress when it comes to test time. Although it may seem obvious, one of the best tips for how to study for a math test and perform your best is to believe in yourself and trust your intuition. Adopt a positive mentality and a proactive attitude and you can maximize your performance on exam day.