How to Pass a Math Test or Paper With a Good Grade

Have your friends been scoring well on math tests, and you want to earn grades like theirs? Then this is the right place for you to improve your math skills and to get some tips on how to pass a math test or paper with a good grade next time you take one.


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    Go to class. Especially if you're in college, you may find it tempting to skip a class now and then. While you can get away with that in some subjects, math is like a ladder. If a rung is missing, or if you don't get a good grip on it, you'll struggle to reach the next rung. If enough rungs are missing, it will be impossible to climb higher. In addition (no pun intended), teachers often emphasize the most important topics in class, so come test time you'll know exactly what to study.
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    Sit in the front row and participate in class. By sitting in the front row, distractions are minimized and performance heightened. Asking questions or providing answers helps the student to stay engaged in the learning process, thus improving attentiveness and retention of materials learned.
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    Do your homework. Homework may seem like torture, but it's really designed to help you learn. The key to learning math is repetition: do enough problems with the quadratic formula, and you'll eventually be able to recite it in your sleep. Plus, as you do your homework, you'll be able to identify concepts you don't understand. It also doesn't hurt that test questions are often based on the homework assignments.
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    Ask questions. OK, so you did your homework, but you still don't understand how to factor a polynomial. Go ahead and ask your teacher, TA, professor - even other students may be able to help. There's no such thing as a stupid question, and if you think it's embarrassing to ask a question imagine how you'll feel when you get a big red "F" on the exam. Everybody has questions about math; successful students ask theirs.
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    Review before the test. Good job! You went to class, did your homework, and got your questions answered. Now, the test is tomorrow. Do you a) breathe a sigh of relief and go to bed; b) turn on the TV and watch the Simpsons; or c) review what you've learned? That's right, it's time to review. This is not the time for cramming, however; you're better prepared than that anyway. Go over your notes, take practice tests, and make sure you have important formulas memorized. Of course, you could just watch The Simpsons, but don't be surprised if your grades turn out more like Bart's than like Lisa's!
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    Relax. Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before the test. You'll feel better and think more clearly if you're well rested. Right before your test look over the important formulas one last time, but other than that, you're done preparing. Remember, you're ready for this, and no matter what happens it's not the end of the world.
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    Pace yourself. Once you have your exam in front of you, look it over to see how many questions there are and what kind of questions are included. This will give you an idea of how much time you can spend on each problem. If you get stuck on a question, move on to the next one and come back later. Sometimes a later question will even jog your memory so that you can answer the one you skipped. Most importantly, don't rush yourself.
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    Pay attention to neatness. Any math teacher will tell you that sloppy work is the test-taker's worst enemy. Even if you know the material cold, a smudged digit here or a forgotten negative sign there can ruin an entire problem. If you make a mistake, use your eraser--that's what it's there for.
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    Check your work. Great, you finished the test with plenty of time to spare. Don't turn it in yet, though! Good test-takers make mistakes all the time, but they find them and fix them before they hand in their exams. This can't be stressed enough, you will always find a mistake somewhere. Anyway, depending on what kind of problems you're doing, your teacher will probably give you some hints on how to check your work. In general, though, carefully reread each question and ask yourself if your answers make sense. You still may not get every problem right, but you'll increase your chances of success exponentially.

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Categories: Tests and Exams