You leaf through your notebook. It’s filled with page after page of formulas,
proofs, methods and equations. The test date is coming up soon, and you begin to ask yourself…
Where do I even begin?
Math tests can be some of the hardest tests to prepare for. Unlike other
subjects, you don’t have a set number of things to learn and remember. There
is no limit to the number of different questions you might be asked.
But you can still walk into the classroom ready to ace that test. Here’s how.
Step 1: Write down all equations and rules
Go through your notes, or the class power point, and copy down every formula
you will be tested on. Try to put all of the testable information as succinctly as
Even if you’re not allowed an equation sheet for the test, make one anyway. It’s
a great way to study, and it will also serve as a collection of all the information
you need to memorize.
Step 2: Practice problems
You might have been assigned extra practice problems by your teacher. But
even if you weren’t, you can still do practice problems.
If you were assigned even numbered problems for homework, go back and do
the odd ones. You can also go through your textbook or look online for similar
problems to the ones you were assigned.
Doing practice problems is the biggest key to doing well. The first step was to
make sure you know the formulas. By practicing, you will know how to use
them. Aim for at least 2 practice problems on each concept, and spend more
time on the ideas you don’t get right away.
Step 3: Make predictions
Based on all of the work your teacher assigned, you can usually predict what
kind of material you will see on a test.
Go through your homework, your in-class work, everything you were assigned.
Then try writing a couple of mock test questions, ones like you think you might
find on the test. Now you’re thinking like a teacher, and you’re a step ahead of
Step 4: Mindset
Math is more about mindset than other subjects, because it involves more high
energy mental work.
In a history test, your attitude won’t make you suddenly know what year the
Barbary Wars started. But in math, many questions require creative thinking
and persistence. The right mindset could help you make a breakthrough on
that tough word problem.
Do whatever you need to do to walk into the room with confidence. For
- Calm yourself down and breathe normally. You don’t want to study in a panicked state of mind
- End your review sessions with something you know you can do well
- Go over test taking strategies
- If you get stuck on a question and stressed out, move on and come back to it later
- Put on some pump up music
Step 5: Sleep
During the test, you need to be able to think quickly. That means you need
your mind functioning at 100%. Always get at least 8 hours of sleep the night
before a test.
If this seems unrealistic to you, don’t worry. Fixing bad sleep habits is easier
than you think, and will dramatically improve your alertness and memory.
Math tests can be intimidating to prepare for. But just like any other test,
studying hard and studying smart can pay big dividends. By following these
five steps, you can put yourself in the right position to succeed. Now it’s time
to get to it, and do what it takes to ace that test.
If you have any more questions about how to study for a math test, feel free to ask in the comments below.