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Math Exam Tips

  1. If you have not had any geometry since the 7th grade, there will probably be some questions on the test that you will not know the answers to. Don't panic! 75% of the test is algebra. This means that 75 of the questions are algebra questions. You have to answer approximately 44 questions correctly to pass. (The scale is scored, so 44 may not be the "magic number" of correct items.) Focus on what you DO know.
  2. If you have room, work your problems in the test booklet. This makes it easier for you to see what you have done and to check your work. If you need to use scratch paper, draw off a block and do the work inside it. Label the top of the block "Problem 13" or whatever is applicable. Some students claim that they intend to check their work but have a difficult time determining where they worked what when trying to retrace their steps.
  3. You will be allowed to use a calculator, but it will only do the basics. You will get to practice using one before the day of the test.
  4. You will receive a "formula" sheet that has the formulas you will need to know for determining distance, midpoint, and slope as well as the Pythagorean Theorem and some other equations and abbreviations. You may ask your math teacher to see one of these sheets if you would just like to get familiar with it.
  5. Keep the order of operations in mind.
  6. Don't get stumped and frustrated with what you don't know. Skip it and move on to what you do know. When you finish the entire test, return to the beginning and take on the more challenging questions. Remember, the easier questions are scattered throughout the test. Don't get so stressed that you cannot tackle the ones that are possible for you. (Skipping around is intended for students who are taking the entire test in the booklet and THEN filling in the answer documents. It would not be wise to skip around bubbling in on that answer document. It would be too easy to get confused and off-track about what answer goes with what question.)
  7. A general math tip is to think first; then solve. Cover all of the answers with a piece of paper and read the problem. Think about the rules you know. Think about the data you have. Work the problem and THEN look at the answer choices and choose the correct one. Remember that those math distracters can be darn good. Don't let that first one cause you to get off course. Work the problem the way you know to work it before looking at any answer choices.
  8. If tip #7 does not work and you just cannot come up with an answer, work backwards. Take each answer choice, plug it into the equation, and then see if it works out. This is a good way to check ALL of your work.
  9. When the answer choices are similar, beware of simple mistakes. This can include variations where the difference is only in a positive or negative sign or where the decimal might be one point off.
  10. Read word problems carefully. What' is the question really asking you for? For instance, a tricky question could be one that would read, "Of the 200 movie tickets, 1/4 have been sold. How many tickets have not been sold?" Would you choose the distracter 50 or the correct answer 150? Watch out for the old “right” answer to the wrong question and ALWAYS work the problems out. DO NOT just pick the one that looks right at first glance.
  11. There are certain basics that you absolutely must know in order to succeed on the math test. Below are some of those basics with the number of questions associated with them.

You must know how to:

  • Apply the order of operations.
  • Add and subtract polynomials.
  • Multiply polynomials.
  • Solve multi-step equations of the first degree.
  • Find perimeter, circumference, area, or volume.
  • Apply properties of similar polygons.
  • Determine mean, median, mode, and range.
  • Determine probabilities.
  • Solve word problems using direct variations or algebraic concepts.

There are four questions on each of the above topics.

Focus on what you can do! See your math teacher for help if you need it. Refer to your math textook. Don't give up. Narrow your answer choices to two logical choices. Check your work. Take your time. Do your best.

Everything above is the direct result of the hard work of Susan Hayes, Principal in the Hartselle City School System.  Thank You!

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