(revised 08/21/13)

First, if you haven’t done the work for the month, it’s sort of hard to be ready, despite any other suggestions. Studying for a test actually presupposes that you have already learned the math during the month, and now you are trying to go back and review it to remember it better so you can do really well on the test.  If you have fallen behind in the work and now don't have enough time to really study well before taking the monthly test, then use this month as a lesson that it's really vital to keep up or catch up in order to have enough time to do extra study and extra practice before the test (rule of thumb: finish the monthly work one week before you are going to take the test). 


  1. Review your notes (look back at the main things you learned...and look at the little details, too, especially things you remember were difficult to understand or do in the practice problems).
  2. Get the test review paper from your teacher (if your course has one).
  3. Make your own practice test, choosing “probable” test problems from the textbook.
  4. Do the practice test without any type of help, so you really know you know it…or you realize you can’t do a problem yet without help (and there won’t be help during the test).
  5. Use your errors on the practice test (and things you couldn’t do) to direct lots and lots of practice before coming in to take the test, so your practice and study is focused on those things you need most. 
  6. All this should take 3 days to a week—so get the monthly math work done a week early, and consider taking a little weekend time for part of your test study and practice. 



1.     1. REVIEW YOUR NOTES: Go back to your notes and look through what things you learned, and the “pitfalls,” things that could be tricky or easy to forget. Study those things (STUDY means to analyze, think about, understand thoroughly, even practice doing, until you know it so well you’ve just about memorized it). 

2.   2. GET THE TEST REVIEW PAPER/STUDY GUIDE: If your teacher gives you any type of test review paper, then get it and look at it carefully. This will be your teacher’s way of saying that these are some of the most important things to know well, or things that have caused students difficulty in the past, or are common errors. This review paper will not tell you exactly what’s on the test, but it’s a pretty good indicator of what

3.     3.  MAKE A PRACTICE TEST: Do this to see if you really can do the problems without help. 

a.     How do you know what’s on the test? 

                                                    i.     There is a limited amount of things the teacher is going to put on the test, and if you pay attention to

1.     the examples in the textbook and

2.     the practice problems assigned as the monthly work, you will know what is on the test with about 60% to 80% accuracy (you'll actually see about 98% of the types of problems on the test, but then more problems that aren't on it).  

                                                  ii.     If you study for more things than are on the test…that’s a good thing, since you wouldn’t want a test with something like 50 questions on it! 

                                                 iii.     You can be sure the questions on the test will represent the main concepts and procedures that are taught in each section. Use that idea to pick out those main things in each section that you should know (which is pretty much one or two concepts/procedures per example, anyway). Many examples are nothing more than a variation of the last example, so use that knowledge to link concepts and procedures together. 


                                                    i.     Using all the above knowledge, make a practice test with 3 or 4 problems from each section. Just take some paper and write out problems on the paper.   Leave space to figure out the answers. Put the problems in orde, and write the section and page number they come from, to help you with checking answers after you try your test.

                                                  ii.     This makes a test much larger than the real test (teacher will tell you exact number of problems on the test if you ask), so split your test into 2 or 3 or 4 parts so it’s not overwhelming (students who are tired when taking a test tend to make mistakes, so limit your time to an hour and a half or less). 


                                                    i.     Make it like test conditions…that mainly means, DO NOT USE ANY TYPE OF HELPFUL THING WHILE DOING THE PROBLEMS! If you are used to going back to look at textbook problems or a notes page or asking a question in order to get a reminder of how to do something, then that right there indicates you do not know that thing well enough. You must know the math in your head, without outside reminders. 

                                                  ii.     For the course allowed to use calculators (Advanced Geometry, Unifying, Intermediate Algebra, and Advanced Intermediate Algebra), be aware that you are not allowed to use a cell phone calculator. You may use a graphing calculator of any type, or you may borrow a scientific calculator (not graphing) in the classroom.  For the other math classes, do not use a calculator much at home, because if you get dependent on it, you be too slow and make more errors when you can’t use the calculator on the real test. 

                                                 iii.     WRITE DOWN EVERY STEP when figuring out the problems. There are two very important reasons:

1.     You make less mistakes when you write out every step…just seeing it on paper often helps avoid some of the mental errors that sometimes happen even to the best mathematicians. 

2.     You can look back afterwards and see what step you made an error on, for any problems that you did wrong. Without writing the steps down, you won’t know what your error is, so you won’t learn what to avoid or what exactly you didn’t understand.  

4.     4. DO MORE PRACTICE RIGHT UP TO THE TEST. Keep yourself fresh with the material, not forgetting the things…especially if there are properties, theorems, vocabulary, steps that you must know by name or in order.