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How to Pass the Math Section for the THEA

by Maria Magher

The Texas Higher Education Assessment, or THEA, measures reading, writing and math skills for students who are planning to enroll in a college or university in Texas. The results of the test are used to determine a student's placement. The test may also be required for students taking dual-enrollment courses, those looking to take an educator prep program and teachers looking to renew their teaching certificates. The math section counts for more than a third of the questions, so it is important to adequately prepare to pass both the section and the test.

Know the Test Format

The THEA has three sections with 135 total multiple choice questions and a writing assignment. The math section has approximately 50 multiple choice questions -- give or take a few questions each year. You have five hours to complete the whole test, and there is no time limit for each section. Learning strategies for multiple choice testing can help you succeed. For example, you should practice identifying key terms such as NOT or MOST LIKE or LEAST LIKE to get to the heart of what the question is asking, then learn how to quickly eliminate the least likely answers. This will save you time and help you hone in on the right answer.

Know What's Tested

The math section on the THEA tests fundamental math, algebra, geometry and problem solving. Each test question asks students to perform a mathematical operation or to solve a problem. Questions are based on a hypothetical scenario or a graph. For example, one sample question listed on the official THEA website is "During a bike-a-thon a local company pledges to donate $1.25 for every $4.00 pledged by the public. If the public pledges a total of $156.00 dollars per mile, how much will the company donate per mile?" By understanding the format for the test and what material is being tested, you can focus your study sessions. It is important to review basic high school math, algebra and geometry, and to practice solving problems.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to prepare for the math section on the THEA is to practice as many of the types of problems on the test as possible. Review questions from classroom assignments or from final exams in classes like Algebra, Geometry or basic high-school math. Practice answering the questions again without looking at the answers. Since time has passed, they will likely seem like new questions to you, allowing you to practice your skills. Work with a study partner to create questions to challenge each other. Buy a review book and answer the questions inside. The more practice you get with the solving algebra, geometry and word problems, the better prepared you will be.

Understand Test Taking Strategies

The THEA is scored according to the number of questions you get right. Therefore, there is no penalty for guessing. If you find yourself stuck, just guess and improve your chances of getting a better score. You have to get a minimum score of 230 to pass -- out of a total possible score of 300. It is also important to know that you will be allowed to use a basic, four-function calculator on the test, including one with square root and percentage keys. Programmable calculators are not allowed. Some formulas and definitions will also be provided on the test. Therefore, you don't have to spend time memorizing formulas or working out complex formulas by hand. This can help you to spend more time studying the things that matter and putting your test time toward working out problems.

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