By Tara Nguyen

As students move up through the grade levels, they encounter the task of taking tests or assessments more and more frequently. All students face the same predicament. They are very well-versed in one subject, yet are needing help in another. One subject that poses a challenge for many students all around is math.

So the question is, how exactly do you study for a math assessment or exam?

The first step is to pay attention in class so that you can absorb all the information necessary to pass an exam.

“Detailed class notes must be taken,” the Mathematics Department at Texas A&M University said. “Especially if feeling lost during [the] lecture.”

This ensures that if students forget any of the information taught to them during class, they can always go back and review the notes they took. Detailed notes are particularly helpful. If students happen to forget an important concept, they could go back and review their notes carefully. This would help in making sure they truly understand the concept, and that they have not just memorized numbers.

Some students believe that memorizing formulas and equations is by far the best way to study for exams, while others say that the very best way to study for an exam or assessment in math is to truly know and understand the formulas, equations and concepts. Neither of these is correct or incorrect, and to receive the best results no matter what, the student should see what works best for the him or her.

“Math is learned by doing problems,” the Mathematics and Statistics Department at Saint Louis University said. “The problems help you learn the formulas and techniques you do need to know, as well as improve your problem-solving prowess.”

While one cannot do History or English, you can do Math— and this is a suggested way of preparing for a test or exam. Instead of simply reading the notes and rereading the notes over and over again, students should crack open their textbooks and do some problems, as well as going back and resolving missed problems on past homework or exams.

In doing this, students would be ensuring that they understand past mistakes they have made so they will not make them again on the upcoming exam. All points count.

If a student does not understand the concept, or why something works a certain way, there is one simple solution to the problem, and it is to ask the teacher. The teacher will be able to explain the concept again, perhaps in a different way than it was taught in class.

It is suggested that students who learn the concepts that their teachers teach do better on exams than those students who simply memorize the formulas and equations. If a student truly understands a concept, they will be able to figure out problems that their teachers have not directly taught them how to solve.

It is imperative that students understand the concept of the topic, and not just the equation. Many teachers, for instance, create problems on the exams or assessments that they did not directly teach. However, they expect that a student who understands the topic will be able to use applied knowledge to understand what needs to be done in order to come up with the correct answer.

There is also much advice for during the actual duration of the test.

“Do the problems in the order that suits you!” the Mathematics and Statistics Department at Saint Louis University said. “Start with the problems that you know for sure you can do.”

If students read through the problems first and solve the ones they already know how to do quite easily, this will help to build confidence within the student and give more time for the student to work out the problems that they may need more time to work on.

Another piece of advice is to write down any equations, formulas or any other pieces of important information that is needed to know for the assessment as soon as the test is received. This will help clear the mind up to solve the problems with more ease, as the student’s memory will not be weighed down trying to remember all the formulas and little pieces of information.

The important thing to remember is to not only study for the math test by reviewing notes taken in class, but to do the math in order to prepare for the exam.

“I was a student and teachers would say, ‘Study for your math test!’” Susan Kruger, M.Ed. said. “I now realize that study is the wrong verb. You really need to ‘practice’ for a math test.”