The Best Way to Study for Math

How to study for math


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

everyone else.


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

Seriously. 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.

Jeremy Baxter

Jeremy is a rising freshman at Cornell University. He graduated in the top 10 of his 500-member high school class and scored a 35 on his first sitting of the ACT. He is a recovering procrastinator who wants to share the methods he uses to get work done and succeed.