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University Life Café

hand with a pen doing math equations

Tips for Math Exams

By Natalie Umberger


• Begin preparing early.

  • Pay attention during class: every minute you daydream in class is many more minutes of studying later.
  • Do assigned homework problems: math is a building process and in order to understand the next step you need to comprehend the present, and previous, ones .

• Simulate test conditions. After you have studied and think you know the material, practice it under test conditions. Solve unassigned homework problems and see if you can finish them in the allotted time for the exam.

• Know your professor.

  • Study a copy of the exam of a previous class if available.
  • Talk with someone who taken the professor before, preferably someone who has succeeded in the same class

• Form a study group of 3-4 dedicated students. Not only will other students be able to help you with problems, but by helping others you will better learn the material. If you are unable teach another student a topic you believe you know, chances are you don't know that topic very well after all. If you can't teach it, you don't know it!


• Read through the exam. Reading through the whole exam can allow you to know what is expected of you, prioritize items on the test, and pace yourself.

• Carefully read the instructions. Make sure you are answering the question that is being asked! Often students know how to solve a problem, but they misread or misinterpret the question itself.

• Check that you have correctly rewritten the problem. If you use a scratch piece of paper make sure that you correctly rewrite the problem. Don't skip steps. Start from the beginning.

• Clearly write each step of the solution.

  • Be neat and don't rush writing numbers down.
  • Keep checking your solution as you are working.
  • Neatness makes it easier to recheck your work.

• Double check your math, especially your calculator entries. Double check your calculator work immediately. The chances of hitting a wrong number are high, but the chances of hitting the same wrong number are not;

• Don't Dilly Dally. If you get stuck on a problem move on and come back to it later.
When you are finished, recheck all your work.


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Tips for Math Exams (pdf)