How to Study for a Math Test

There are several ways to study math. Some students need to use as many practice questions as possible, while other students can benefit by listening to the math lecture over and over. Find out which math tips help you most.

Study Tips for Math at Home

  • Make photocopies of textbook problems. Math books give you sample problems to solve, but they often don’t give you enough similar problems to help you understand a process. You can photocopy or scan a page with good samples and re-work the problems several times, perhaps once a day. By solving the same problems over and over, you’ll better understand the processes that you go through.
  • Buy used textbooks. Sometimes we don’t understand a concept because the explanation is just plain bad or it’s not written in a way we can understand. It’s good to have an alternate text that gives alternate explanations and additional sample problems to work out. Many used bookstores will have inexpensive texts.
  • Study actively. Don’t just work out a problem. Draw pictures and diagrams of a process and make up stories to go along with them. If you are an auditory learner you may want to make brief recordings of yourself defining some terms or processes. Read about helpful​ tactile learning tips and visual learning tips.
  • Read actively. Use sticky note flags to mark important things in your chapter or things you need to ask about in class. If you have a sample problem that you’ve worked out and you’d like to have similar problems for additional practice, mark it with a flag and ask the teacher in class. Read the end of your assigned chapter first. Take a look at the problems you’ll be solving to get a preview of your goals. This gives your brain a framework to work with.
  • Make flashcards for terms. Flashcards are good for visual and tactile learners. They reinforce information as you see it and as you create it with your own hand.
  • Use college prep study guides. If you can’t find an old textbook to use in addition to your class text, try using an SAT, ACT, or CLEP study guide. They often provide great explanations and sample problems. You can also find free online study guides for these tests.
  • Take breaks. If you come across a problem that you don’t understand, read it over a few times and try—but then walk away from it and make a sandwich or do some other small task (not other homework). Your brain will continue to work on the problem subconsciously.

Study Tips for Math in Class

  • Review yesterday’s notes before class. In the minutes before class starts, look over notes from yesterday. Determine if there are any sample problems or concepts you should ask about.
  • Record lectures. If the teacher allows it, record your class. You will often find that you miss small steps in your notes or you don’t quite pick up on an explanation that the teacher gives. A class recording will pick up everything. Auditory learners will really benefit from listening. Remember, just because your math class lasts 45 minutes, don’t think you’re going to end up with 45 minutes of lecture to listen to. You’ll find that the actual talking time is about 15 minutes.
  • Ask for extra sample problems. Ask your teacher to solve sample problems. That’s a teacher’s job! Don’t let a topic go by if you don’t get it. Don’t be shy.
  • Draw anything the teacher draws. If the teacher makes a drawing on the board, you should always copy it. Even if you don’t think it’s important at the time or you don’t understand it at the time. You will!

Study Tips for Math Tests

  • Review old tests. Old tests are the best clues to future tests. They are good for establishing a strong foundation for the newer information, but they also provide insight as to how the teacher thinks.
  • Practice neatness. How unfortunate would it be to miss a test question out of sloppiness? It’s important to make sure you can line up problems neatly so you don’t confuse yourself, and also to make sure you can tell your sevens from your ones.
  • Find a study partner. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. A study partner can test you and help you understand things you can’t get on your own.
  • Understand the process. You sometimes hear that it doesn’t matter how you come up with the right answer, just as long as you get there. This is not always true. You should always strive to understand an equation or a process.
  • Is it logical? As you work out a story problem, always give your answer the logic test. For example, if you are asked to find the speed of a car traveling between two distances, you are probably in trouble if your answer is 750 mph. Apply the logic test as you study so you don’t repeat a faulty process during your test.

xn+yn=znx^{n} + y^{n} = z^{n}




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