How to Study for Math Tests

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!

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