Or worse, the test goes well and you breeze through, only to find out that you barely passed. Or that you flunked.
Awkward, right? How can you avoid those ugly situations? You need some good math test tips.
Fortunately, I’ve got eight awesome math test taking strategies to help you whup your next exam.
Bring LOTS of scratch paper
Always bring oodles of scratch paper to a math test. Unless you’re not allowed to, in which case my sincere condolences. Scratch paper is actually more important than people realize. You need lots of room to write, and there are few things more horrifying than being partway through a test and running out of paper.
Play it safe – plan ahead and bring more than you need.
Besides, you might make a friend when the person next to you leans over and says, “Hey, you got any extra paper?”
Write down important equations right away
At the very beginning of the test, write down important equations that you know you’ll need. These are those things that you kept having to use when you studied and did all that homework.
You did do the homework, right? Top study tip – do the homework.
Anyway, even if you know the equations, or think you know them, don’t rely on your memory during the test!
Math tests are handy: the only thing you really need to remember are equations! If you write all of them down right at the beginning, you don’t have to remember anything else for the rest of the test! Just plug your numbers in and go! This one math test tip has saved me more stress than anything else on this page, by far.
Get the big picture
Look over the entire test as soon as you get it. Get an idea for how much time you have and how long things will take. Make sure you read the test directions carefully!
Also, it’s a good idea to bring a watch with you so you can budget your time better. Doesn’t have to be fancy – just so long as you can see the time. Even if your classroom has a clock, it’s easier to have a watch right on your desk you can glance at.
Go out of order
Don’t be afraid to be a math rebel! Do easier problems and problems that are more valuable points-wise first. This is especially true for timed tests. You want to get as many easy points as you can before you tackle the hard ones.
Don’t get stuck on a question, either. If you come across one you don’t know how to answer right off the bat, move on and come back later. Also, sometimes other parts of the test can help answer that question.
The military tells trainees that “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” It’s true for shooting and it’s true for taking tests. Don’t rush! You want to keep a decent pace, of course, but make sure that you are doing things carefully and deliberately. You never want to have to backtrack because you were going so fast you made a mistake.
I know this is a challenge, but it’s well worth it for two reasons. First, it helps your teacher grade your test as easily as possible. Even though it’s math and there’s only one right answer, if teachers can see your work and if it’s all laid out nice and neat, they’ll often be a little more generous with those partial credit points.
Also, it just feels cooler when you see a page full of neatly written figures and equations. You feel like you’re on a TV show like Numb3rs or something. If that same page is all messy… significantly less cool.
Oh, and when you write neatly, it’s much easier to see your mistakes.
Estimating is is an invaluable tool when you’re taking a math test. Before you solve the problem, go over it quickly in your mind and come up with a ballpark figure of where the answer should be. Notice you’re not solving the problem; this process is very quick. You’re just getting an idea of what the answer kind of ought to look like.
After you do the problem, just check the answer against your estimate. If they are way off, you may want to take a closer look at the problem to make sure you’re doing things right.
Double check your work
To be honest this isn’t just a math test tip. You should double check everything on every test you take. But it’s absolutely crucial for math tests.
It is very easy, as I’m sure you know, to be off just a single decimal point and have a whole problem ruined.
It’s even easier to fat-finger a calculator and mess up that way.
Double checking everything may seem to take a lot of time, but it is well worth the effort.
What do you think?
Do you have any stories about math tests you’ve taken? Study tips that have worked for you? Share them in the comments below!