"During a test:
People look up for inspiration,
down in desperation and
left and right for information"
Here are some real tips on how to better tackle mathematics examinations!
1) Ensure sufficient rest before the Exam.
Staying awake through the night before an exam to cram in your revision is the worst mistake you can make to prepare for a mathematics examination. This strategy might work for content-based subjects like history and geography but definitely not math. When facing a math examination, you need to be equipped with a fresh, clear mind that is capable of thinking sharply, clearly, creatively and accurately. A tired mind will only result in tons of careless mistakes and serious mind blocks when facing even moderately difficult questions. Hence, make it a point to sleep early before the night of your math examinations!
2) Stay Hydrated
Studies showed that students who took water into the exam hall did up to 10 per cent better than those who did not. That is one whole grade more! Staying hydrated ensures that the brain functions smoothly and drinking water also calms the nerves. Conversely, being dehydrated will lead to fatigue and heightened anxiety. Having that said, please do not guzzle down like a thirsty hippo and end up visiting the rest room every few minutes during the examination!
Math is not a spectator sport! Spend time understanding the techniques used to solve questions and spend time practicing examination questions. Always check your answers and clarify any doubts with your teachers/peers/tutors! Each mistake made and learnt during practice would be one less mistake made during the examination.
4) Rework Homework Problems and Notes Examples.
Revision is ineffective if you merely read over your notes and homework problems. Instead, cover the answers and rework the problems! Actually write down the solutions on paper before checking with the answers.
5) Review your past mistakes before the Exam.
In addition to having your formulas memorized, do spend time looking through your past work. Focus on the mistakes you made in the past and remind yourself to watch out for them in the upcoming examination.
6) Start with the easiest questions first.
You start an examination with zero points and your job is to accumulate as many as you can within the limited time frame. It is wisest to grab all the “free” and easy marks first and leave the challenging ones for later! It not only makes practical sense, but it also helps boost your morale and confidence when you know you have points secured already.
7) Take a 5 min toilet break halfway during the examination.
Since time is a precious resource during any examination, students often make the wrong assumption that they cannot afford time to go to the restroom. Some students avoid hydrating themselves and others hold their bladder until they couldn’t think properly. On the contrary, investing some time to visit the toilet during the exam is often rewarding. More often than not, during the process of relieving yourself, your mind blocks disappear and you get your eureka moments to solving the toughest examination questions.
8) Never Assume your answers are correct without checking.
Check, double check, triple check! I can’t emphasize enough the importance of checking your work. Check your work in as many methods as you can: Use your calculator, use estimation, use alternative methods to solve the question again, read the question again, look at your table partner’s work (Nope!). Recall all the careless mistakes that you made in the past and check for them in the paper! Do the entire
questions again if you can afford the time! Always check your work!
9) Mentality when facing a tough questions
It is normal to face challenging questions during every math examination. Or else where is the fun? However, when facing a challenging question, it is important to stay calm. Firstly, tell yourself “If I can’t solve this question, it is likely that there are many students out there who can’t do it as well”. Knowing that there are many others who are in the same predicament would keep you calm. Next, do your best to solve the question and if too much time has passed, make the decision to skip it first and return to it at the end.