When I was a student and teachers would say, “Study for your
math test!” I would think, “How do I ‘study’ for a math test?”
I now realize that ‘study’ is the wrong verb. You really need
to ‘practice’ for a math test.
Math tests not only require you to KNOW material, they
require you to know HOW TO DO something with that material.
This shift requires a shift in your preparation. Unlike other
tests, there is no way to prepare for a math test the night
before. At that point, you either know the material or you
don’t, but there is no faking.
First, it is important to understand common reasons
students loose points on math tests. They include:
1) Not reading the directions! (This is a big one!)
2) Not writing neatly. (i.e. Mistaking a digit in the
tens place for one that should be in the hundreds
3) Not understanding the math vocabulary.
4) Not doing their homework regularly to get appropriate
5) Not knowing their basic addition, subtraction,
multiplication, and/or division facts fluently.
Simply being aware that each of these factors can impact
your grade is half of your battle, but as you probably
guessed, there is more you can do.
** Action Plan **
Step 1: Know your basic math facts! There are hundreds of
math games on the internet to help you practice your facts.
They are the foundation of math and will continue to hold
you back if you cannot answer each of them (0-10) in a
Step 2: As you do your homework, remind yourself that you
are actually ‘studying’ for your next math test. Circle all
problems that you do not know how to do and ask for help in
class the next day. As you correct your homework in class,
circle all problems you did wrong and take notes about how to
do them correctly.
Step 3: Three nights before your test, study your math
vocabulary and do 10-15 practice problems using “wrong”
answers from your homework. Repeat the next night with
different homework problems.
Step 4: The night before the test, review those lovely
vocabulary words and do one problem from each night’s
Step 5: When you first receive the test, write down any
formulas or definitions you are afraid you might forget.
Step 6: Read the directions! Twice.
Step 7: Write neatly. Keep your numbers in the correct
Step 8: When you are stuck, do as much as you can (you may
get partial credit), then skip the problem and move on.
Come back to it if you have time.
Step 9: After your test is graded, make sure you understand
any mistakes and how to correct them. If you do not
understand the material now, you will continue to have
problems in following chapters.
** In Conclusion **
Math can be challenging because everything you learn builds
on knowledge you should have learned before. If you miss
something, it will catch up with you. However, if you:
– Learn your math facts,
– Treat your homework like it is test practice and learn
from your mistakes,
– Take time to learn math vocabulary,
– Read the directions…
…it will not be long before your math test scores will soar!