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Tips for Studying for and Taking Math Tests

Studying math is not the same as studying for other subjects such as English or social studies.

Below are some tips for studying for and taking math tests, as well as how to use those tests to prepare you for your final exam and/or EOCT.


  • Your first test may be easy, but do NOT get over confident . Getting an  A on the first test may help you offset lower grades later in the semester.
  • Doing well on homework and/or quizzes is no guarantee of doing well on a test. Tests can be more challenging than a sequence of quizzes for two reasons:

1.   A test covers ALL of the content from the unit, not just a few topics, so you must study a larger range of content

2.  Because there is a larger amount of content on a test, you must be able to quickly decide the nature of a problem and the best approach.

  • Write up a summary sheet of key formulas and definitions and quickly review/glance over these right before the test.
  • Attend any review sessions and take plenty of notes.  If the teacher is taking the time to work the problem during a review session, he/she thinks it is important enough and it, or one like it, will probably be on the test.
  • Review all of your quizzes and rework ALL of the problems .  If your pencil is not moving, you are not studying math!
  • Study for your math test by working mixed sets of problems.  Use your study guide, practice test in the book, and/or review books.  It is not enough to be familiar with the material; you should have worked so many problems that the material is now easy for you.
  • Do some timed practice tests or sets of problems. Try to find some application problems with difficult or confusing wording (you will need practice in deciphering this kind of problem). In other words, mimic the testing situation as closely as you can while you work on practice exams.
  • During your practice tests, check all results, just as you will during the test. Use some of the following methods: Plug your answer back into the problem to make sure it works. Estimate the answer to make sure you are in the right ball park. Double check units and positive and negative signs. If time allows, rework some of the problems using an alternative method.


  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the test . Sleep is essential for higher order thinking.
  • Avoid junk food and caffeine!  Too much sugar and/or caffeine can create fatigue once they wear off.  Caffeine is also a diuretic… do not make yourself more stressed out by worrying about having to go to the bathroom or missing testing time by doing so.
  • When you first get the test, write down any formulas you might forget. Next, look at the number of points given for each problem and think about how to get the most points in the quickest amount of time. Apportion your time and begin work on the easiest problems .
  • Expect a few extremely difficult problems and don’t let them throw you off balance.
  • Do NOT spend too much time on difficult or confusing problems.  Return to them at the end of the test, by which time you may have gained new insights. Clearly write out each step so even if miss the answer you may earn partial credit.


  • When your test is returned, rework any problems you missed
  • Determine what went wrong and make sure you understand how to not make the same error in the future.
  • This will help you prepare for your final exam or EOCT.  (This is analogous to a sports team preparing for an upcoming game by watching the tape of an earlier game.)

Use classwork, class activities, and homework to prepare for QUIZZES.

Use unit quizzes, study guides, and review problems from book to prepare for TESTS.

Use tests to prepare for EOCTs and FINALS.

Adapted from:  Math Strategies & Study Tips, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Academic Center for Excellence

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