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News from Mathnasium of Stapleton

Math Test Prep 101

Apr 30, 2019

Many students who visit us at Mathnasium of Stapleton are apprehensive about taking math tests. Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown questions on tests, or the feeling that they don’t quite grasp the material well enough. Or maybe it’s that a lot of tests are timed and students like to go at their own pace without feeling rushed. Anxiety in test taking is not just relegated to math, either. Most students these days are tested in all subjects regarding comprehension and knowledge. 

Prepping for tests should be less like a sprint and more like a marathon – slow, prepared, methodical and at a at a steady pace. Cramming, which would be more like sprinting, isn’t preferable and doesn’t lend itself to really understanding information well. Attending classes, regularly doing homework and staying on top of comprehension of concepts is the best way to always be prepped for tests. Homework may be annoying, but it is a student’s best friend! Completing homework assignments are great ways for test prepping, because they’re smaller bit sized pieces that help you practice what might be on the test. Practicing over and over by doing homework certainly helps and like many things, practice is how you gain skills and confidence. Math homework can also help students figure out where skill gaps are and what they need to work on. If a student discovers they aren’t understanding some concepts as well as they should be – it’s fixable. It won’t happen overnight, but with dedication and the drive to be better, it’s entirely possible to strengthen their foundation of math and increase knowledge that will likely show up on tests. Asking for help should be encouraged!

Once a math test is scheduled:

  • Make sure your student knows that material that’s being covered. Together, you and your kid can come up with a good, measured study plan.
  • Evaluate your home study space and make sure there’s an area in your house that’s free from distraction when your kid is doing homework. It can be a common area, like a kitchen table, but generally the area needs to be as free from screens (or with screens turned off), noise and people as possible.
  • Manage time well. When kids have routines, they do much better. Homework and study time should be brought into routines. Choose regular times where homework can be done in a distraction-free space and stick with those. If your kid needs you to be there for questions, make sure it’s a time when you’re available. 
  • Encourage your student to review old assignments and quizzes. The reason for homework should be for your child to practice material that they will eventually need to know for tests. The same exact problems on homework likely won’t show up on the test, but concepts practiced in homework likely will. 
  • Remind your kid to take breaks for food, water and play. A scheduled test shouldn’t ruin their life – they should still be able to have a balance of fun with their studies. Taking breaks helps alleviate burnout and frustration. 

The day before the test:

  • Remember, cramming isn’t super effective. Cramming everything the night before tests can actually lead to worse test taking. If your kid still feels worried about the test, have them review just the concepts that are sticky and unclear to them. Spending a little amount of time on those can give them more confidence. 
  • Help them prepare everything they need for the day of the test. This can mean tools they need for the test, like pencils, pens a calculator, their notes etc. It can also mean helping them prepare their lunch, water bottle and outfit beforehand. Anything that keeps them from being distracted the day of can help. 
  • Stick with your kid’s bedtime routine the night before. Anxiety can keep us all up at night. Doing the regular routine things to calm your kid before bedtime is encouraged. 

The day of the test:

  • Make sure your child eats a good breakfast that will hold them over until they can eat lunch. This should be something that’s done every school day, but avoiding sugary breakfasts would that will spike blood sugar and not last is especially important so that they don’t crash before the test.
  • Remind your kid to use the bathroom before they enter the room which they’ll take the test. Nobody wants to feel like they have ants in their pants for a whole hour or more. It’s much harder to concentrate when you need to use the restroom.
  • Once the test in front of your kid, they should:
  • Relax, take a deep breath and think something positive, like “I’m going to do my best.”
  • Read the directions thoroughly and skim the test from beginning to end before starting. This will give your child insight into how many work problems there are and which sections they might need to spend a little more love on. 
  • Double check their answers, if they have time left. This includes making sure all work is shown when necessary, but also cleaning up sloppiness or parts that might not be clear to their teacher. Sometimes, partial credit will be given for answers that aren’t complete but at least tried or halfway there. 

After the test: 

Celebrate the work that your student put into preparing for the test, regardless of the result. If they really were disciplined and they did their best, they deserve to rewarded. And if you or  your student aren’t happy with the results, come over to Mathnasium of Stapleton. We can help!