Monday, December 16, 2013

How to Study for a Math Test

As midterms and finals are rearing up their fiery heads all over the nation, students everywhere are dreading their math tests.  For many of these students it may be too late, but not for you!  Here are our tips on how to study for a math test.

Work through each problem on the study guide

This may seem straight forward, but I can't tell you how many times I have had students turn in incomplete or nearly blank study guides!!  Many math teachers give problems on the study guide that are nearly identical to ones on the test.  Make sure you understand HOW TO DO each problem, not just what the answer is.  
I suggest these steps to my students when tackling the study guide:
  1.  Read through the entire study guide.  You are going to categorize each question as easy, difficult, need resources, and don’t understand.  If the problem is easy quickly do it. If you can do the problem but you know it will be more difficult or take more time, put a star next to it.  If you need a resource (book, calculator, website, reference page, etc.) circle the problem.  If you have no clue and don’t understand what the problem is asking or how to complete the problem, put a question mark next to it.
  2. Go through and complete all of the starred questions.  Check your work and answers for all starred and easy questions.  Fix any errors or repeat any wrong problems.
  3. Get out your resources.  Make sure your book, binder, and calculator are all together.  Go through and complete all circled questions.  Check your work and answers for all circled questions.  Fix any errors or repeat any wrong problems.
  4. Now it’s time to tackle those question marks!  These are the problems you will want to ask your classmate, tutor, or teacher about.  If neither is an option, then look online, but be aware that many problems won’t be done correctly for your specific class online.  For example, most pre-calculus problems will be done using calculus.  If your textbook has an online version with resources, this would be the perfect place to look.  Check your work and answers for all question marks.  Fix any errors or repeat any wrong problems with the help of your teacher or tutor.
  5. If you have time, work through the starred, circled, and question marked questions a second or even third time.  The more times you do a problem correctly, the better chance you have of understanding how to do it on the test.

Do your homework every night

The best way to study for a test is to keep on top of your class and not fall behind.  Make sure you are completing your homework every night so you are practicing the concepts. 
If you are having trouble completing your homework you can:
  • Form a homework group with other students from your class
  • Ask your parent, sibling, tutor, or teacher for help after school
  • Look in your textbook for help
  • Look online for help

Take care of yourself

Make sure to manage your study time effectively so that you are healthy and alert on the day of your test.  Eat healthy foods and get adequate rest on the days leading up to your test.  Prepare well so you aren’t extremely nervous or stressed about your test.  This includes: doing all your homework and classwork so you have a nice grade “cushion” and studying for your test. 

Dress for success

This may seem like a silly idea, but on the morning of your test, spend a little extra time to get dressed up.  Dress like you are going to a job interview.  The way you dress has a big affect on how you feel about your self.  Dressing up will help you to feel more confident and ready.

Many students follow the path of college students thinking it will help their grade.  Considering the graduation rate of most colleges, this probably isn’t a great idea. Don’t do overnight study sessions hopped up on red bull.  Don’t cram all of your studying into one day or even one week.  Don’t show up to your final in pajamas.  Don’t expect your test to make or break your grade.  If you start preparing for your test from day one, you will easily succeed.

Do you have any suggestions to help study for a test or final?  Post them below!

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