How to Pass a Math Test

Instructor: Jessica Keys
The day has arrived at last. You've been studying and practicing math for weeks, and now it's time to put your skills to the test. The way you prepare is also integral to making the grade, so here are some tips that will help you do your best!

Weeks to Days Before the Test

  • Take good notes. You don't have to transcribe your instructor's lessons word for word--it's more important to listen than to take perfect notes! Instead, think about the gist. Note any keywords, definitions and step-by-step instructions.
  • Do your homework. It's always a drag, but it's there to help. The work may be a little repetitive, but going over a type of problem or formula over and over is a good way to reinforce what you've learned. Moreover, doing your homework is a surefire way to identify any material you may be having trouble with.
  • Make sure you sort out all the test details in advance. This includes where and when you need to take the test, what is actually going to be on the test and what you need to bring.
  • Study, study, study! You don't need to wait until the night before to load up on caffeine and cram until the wee hours (unless that really works for you)! Make things a little easier on your nerves by studying throughout the weeks before your test. You can review your material and homework, make flashcards to help you memorize formulas, or even set up a study group with your friends. For more ideas, offers a three-part video course on study skills that will help you make the most of your time! You can also look into taking an appropriate math course with We offer numerous courses that cover various math topics, such as algebra, geometry, precalculus, statistics, and calculus at different grade levels. All of our courses are self-paced, which makes studying easy.

The Night Before the Test

  • Relax and sleep! If you have been spending a lot of time worrying about your upcoming exam, it can burn you out to the point where it can seriously affect your performance. Just remember: It's only a test. The world won't suddenly stop turning if you don't do as well as you're hoping, so don't forget to take a little time for yourself! Do something you enjoy and give your brain and body a rest.

If you are having a little trouble managing your time effectively and it's leaving you frazzled, check out's resource on stress management for students!

The Day of the Test / Test Time

  • Make sure you're all ready to go. Reduce anxiety by double checking that you have everything that you need for your test, like pencils, scratch paper and any other materials.
  • Have something to eat. Don't sit for your test on an empty stomach! This can have a negative impact on your concentration, and you may get frustrated very quickly. If you are at school, and your math class is hours away from breakfast or lunch, try to have a small snack before testing.
  • Review your material, but don't try to cram in weeks' worth of math during the five minutes before the test! However, a brief review of what you have already studied can get you in the right frame of mind.
  • Follow all test directions carefully. This is especially true on standardized tests that are graded by a computer; any technical mistakes might result in a zero score. If you notice something that's confusing or a possible error, ask your instructor or a proctor.
  • Pencil in any memorized formulas or equations first. Do this lightly, in the margins of your test or on a piece of scrap paper. Doing this first can help take the edge off your anxiety, as you won't have to worry about forgetting them during the test!
  • If you get stuck, skip it. Don't panic! Keep moving forward. You might jog your memory later on, so mark the question and come back to it once you have answered the easier problems.
  • Approach tough problems calmly. If you find yourself working into a tizzy, cool down. Take a mental step back and a deep breath. Try to remember an easier version of the same problem and don't second guess yourself. Even if you don't get the right answer, you may, at least, get partial credit for work shown.
  • Finally, DO NOT CHEAT! Cheating has very serious consequences. You may automatically fail your test or your class, or you may even be suspended from your school. It's not worth it!

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