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Ideas to Help Pass a Math Test

by Soheila Battaglia, studioD

Tests are an inevitable part of any math class. They serve to test your knowledge of -- and you ability to solve -- the mathematical concepts you learn. To successfully pass a math test, complete all the preceding schoolwork, take careful notes, seek out additional support and avoid stress on test day.

Do All Math Homework

Falling behind on assignments can leave you unprepared when it comes time to be tested on the course material. Texas A&M University suggests doing all math homework, whether or not the assignment is graded. Doing homework is important to your overall grade and gives you the opportunity to practice solving problems, allowing you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. For example, you may think you are strong at adding and subtracting fractions, but when you do your homework you realize that you're not as good at mixed fractions. Getting the warning ahead of time lets you learn and prepare before the test.

Equations and Rules

Take notes of key information your teacher explains or writes on the board, and jot down titles and bold and underlined terms from the textbook. Your notes can include sample problems, tables, equations, definitions, terms, rules, graphs, diagrams, formulas and concepts. The act of writing down the notes will help you memorize and understand them. Later, those notes can serve as a cheat sheet -- a single document with all the key mathematical concepts you need to ace a math test. Important equations for an algebra test include factoring formulas, the quadratic formula and the linear function. For a geometry test important rules include Pythagorean theorem and formulas for the circumference and area of a circle.

Writing Out Problems

Even though it may feel simpler to solve problems in your head, it can be more beneficial to write math problems as you solve them. Do this directly on the test or on scratch paper. This is particularly useful for word problems, for which you need to create specific equations and identify mathematical relationships before solving. Mt. Diablo Unified School District suggests writing key words to identify what the problem is asking for. Solving problems on paper during the test can help you avoid careless mistakes such as not carrying a number or solving for the wrong variable. Also, having the information in front of you makes it easier to plug the answers back into the equations to check for accuracy.

Be An Active Learner

Before taking a math test, ask questions. Saint Louis University refers to students who seek out help as active studiers -- students who are actively involved and engaged in their learning process. Being an active learner is particularly important in math because this subject builds on mastering previous knowledge; so if you don't understand the lesson on Monday, chances are you won't be able to follow the lesson on Tuesday, which will negatively impact your math exam scores. For example, you can't solve a problem that includes addition, subtraction and exponents without knowing the proper order of operations. Any time you are unsure about the current or previous day's lesson, ask your teacher to clarify, because today's lesson is a building block for tomorrow's.

About the Author

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.

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