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Math Test-Taking Skills

Preparation for a Math Test

  • Create your own or ask your instructor for practice tests. Use the chapter reviews and the chapter tests at the end of each chapter in your textbook. Time yourself – remember, many math tests are only 50 minutes long.
  • Study quizzes and handouts.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Eat something before you take the test (not something high in sugar and caffeine).
  • Ask your instructor about the possibility of alternative test-taking situations: more time, taking a test away from the classroom, etc.
  • Start studying at least three days before the test. The night before the test, review material that you have already learned.

How to Take a Math Test

  • When you first receive the test, pay attention to point values assigned to each question, how many questions there are, whether you can choose which problems to do, etc.
  • Do the problems you do know how to do first. Doing the ones that you know how to do first may trigger your memory for some concept that you have temporarily forgotten due to stress.
  • Go back and do as many problems as you can. Do not spend a great deal of time on a problem that has a low point value and not even attempt others.
  • Recognize and avoid test taking errors:
    • Misreading directions or not reading directions at all
    • Making careless errors
    • Not completing a problem through its last step
    • Second guessing yourself and changing correct answers to incorrect answers
    • Getting stuck on one problem and spending too much time on it
    • Rushing through the easiest part of the test and making careless errors
    • Leaving an answer blank
  • Make effective use of your test when you get it back
  • Write down the correct answers when the instructor goes over the test
  • Rework the problems that you missed to verify that you can obtain the answer
  • See if there is a pattern to your errors—Did you make sign errors? Did you forget the distributive property?
  • Talk to your instructor—he or she can give you some tips for improving your next grade.