How to Study for a Math Exam

Four Parts:ClassesStudyingRevisingDuring the test

Many people try to study for math in the same way they would study for a history exam : by simply memorizing formulas and equations the way they would memorize facts and dates. While knowing formulas and equations is important, the best way to learn them is by using them. That's the great thing about math - you can do math. You can't simply "do history."

Part 1

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    Attend class every day. Listen and pay attention to the material. Math is typically more visual than other subjects due to the equations and problem solving.
    • Jot down any example problems from the session/class. When you review your notes later on, you will have a better knowledge of the specific lesson that was taught, rather than relying on your textbook.
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    Ask your teacher any questions that you might have before the day of the exam. The teacher might not tell you specifically what is going to be on the exam, but he or she may give you helpful guidance if you don't understand. Not only will they show you how to do the problem, but a teacher who has seen you before and knows who you are will be more willing to help you in the future (or maybe even cut you a little slack if your grade is borderline).
    • Highlight any questions you are unsure of and take them to your teacher who will always be happy to help you with the problem.

Part 2

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    Read the text. Make sure you read all of the text and not just the examples. Textbooks often include proofs of the formulas that they expect you to know; this is useful for truly understanding the material and why it works.
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    Do homework problems. Most classes have assigned, or at least suggested, problems that the teacher feels are most useful. A lot of exam problems are extremely similar to homework problems; sometimes they are even exactly the same.
    • Keep your homework papers. File the check papers and homework sheets in a plastic wallet or binder. Use them when revising.
    • Do as many problems as you can so that you can get as much practice as possible and become familiar with the different problem set ups.
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    Try to find out various ways to tackle a certain problem. For example, with systems of equations, you can solve them by either substitution, elimination, or graphing. Graphing is best used when you can utilize a calculator (e.g TI-84+ or TI-83) as you are more likely to get the correct answer. However, if you can't use one, then either use substitution or elimination based on the question (some are solved easier by x method than y), or determine which way is easier for you to do. This is better than becoming adept at one method, which may let you down when the time comes to take a test.
    • It is often useful to understand how a formula is derived rather than just memorizing it. Things will make more sense, and it is often easier to remember just a few simple formulas and how to derive more complicated ones from them.

Part 3

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    Start studying 2 months before the exam. Do not wait till the last minute. As for the day before the exam, do not be stressed and just relax. Clear your mind when you sleep and you will definitely do well.
    • Study as much as possible the day before the test, but allow yourself time for other activities, too.
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    Try to find other problems that are similar to those that were assigned for homework. Take this opportunity to finish off an entire page if the assigned homework was a portion of that (for example, if the homework was to do the odd-numbered problems, do the even ones too).
    • Find or download workbooks in the area and level of math you're revising. Try the questions; doing this will give you extra knowledge, and you may face that problem next day.
    • Ask your teacher if your math book has an online website. Sometimes online textbooks can help by providing quizzes and additional instructional material.
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    Join a study group. Different people see concepts in different ways. Something that you have difficulty understanding may come easily to a study partner. Having his/her perspective on a concept may help you to comprehend it.
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    Have someone make up problems for you to work out. Get them to draw out similar examples from your textbook or ideas from online sources and reveal the answers to you if you're finished or seriously stuck on them. Don't try to create your own study sheet since you're not challenging yourself enough.
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    Know that teachers will go back into the past. Even if you're studying for a chapter or two, they may "polish" your skills and come up with math problems that you studied a while back or at the beginning of the term.
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    Sleep for 7-9 hours to keep your mind fresh and perform calculations mentally.

Part 4
During the test

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    Relax. Start by doing the easiest problems first. That way, you can have more time focusing on the harder problems.


  • Keep calm and think positive, be confident that you can do it.
  • Do not rely on your teacher to make you understand a concept or a problem. You will never get it and you might feel that the teacher is being rude by not bringing down the question to your level of understanding. Instead, do it all by yourself, start to finish. Some questions are so tricky, they almost always have to be memorized, so mark them and revise them again and again before an exam so that it is well set in your mind.
  • Try to enjoy math. Feel happy and satisfied when you manage to finish a problem and then proceed to the next sum.
  • Solve problems. In this way, you have the tendency to understand and realize the formulas and the given problems. You can solve the problems that have been given to you. Solve some problems even if you don't know the answer and let someone check it for you.
  • Make sure to drink lots of water and have a small snack before you study. This will stimulate your brain and will help you memorize and work on your math concepts.
  • In all math tests, the toughest questions that you encounter while preparing are the ones asked in the test, prepare by reviewing study guides, other tests, homework, and other papers regarding the things covered before the test
  • Start studying while you still have time to go to a professor or teacher for answers if you need to. If you start studying too late, you leave yourself with no options or opportunities to study.
  • Make sure that when you are understanding the math problems, you aren't just doing them. You have to understand them and if you have the slightest doubt, you should ask a teacher or an adviser.
  • If math is something you find boring and not worth studying for, give yourself incentives to finish problems. For example, promise yourself you'll treat yourself to some cookies, half an hour of your favorite program, etc. after you finish 20 sums. You could also race your friends in finishing the sums if you can manage group studying. You could also speak to your family and decide on a reward if you get over a certain percentage in the exam. That way you have an incentive to do well.
  • Keep all previous quizzes, exams, notes, and so forth to go over! In university, you will be given previous years exams so be sure to utilize all the resources when practicing.
  • Always have a positive type of thinking for the exam and relax.
  • Study a couple of weeks before the test. Don't do the same problems. If you need help, ask a teacher or friend.
  • Don't stress if you don't know a answer skip it and go on with your teat and then once your done with the rest of the test go back to it. Don't get stuck on one question.
  • Listening to calm music while studying is a good way to study without stressing yourself.
  • Join a study group and go to the library after school to study.
  • Go back to your homework and try out the questions, because the teachers always use the same kind of questions in the test.
  • Try to avoid distractions. If there is someone or something getting in your way of studying, do not pay attention to them.
  • Practice using past exam papers as well.


  • Don't look up the answer as soon as you get stuck on a problem. Struggling with it for some time will be much more beneficial, because you may find a new way to understand the problem. Even if in the end you need to look up the answer anyway.
  • Do not do all of your studying at one time. Be sure to take breaks and let the information sink in a little before going back to studying.
  • Don't be tempted to use a calculator when solving problems. In fact, you should practice the basics - addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Practice them as often as possible with random numbers. However, once you get to harder things, a calculator probably will be required to do your homework.
  • Do not just try to find example problems that emulate homework problems. Try to understand why certain steps are taken. If the professor likes to be tricky (many do), knowing the example problems will not be very helpful, but truly understanding the material will. There are a few clues in the question and you have to solve the question with the given materials.

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Categories: Surviving Mathematics | Tests and Exams