Set an easy goal first if you want your math grade to improve. Try to improve grades in individual tests. Then try for a better grade in a full math exam.

The contents of this post include two parts

- Preparing for a test
- Taking a test

**Preparing for a Test**

Begin preparing at the earliest. Go to your class after reading carefully the topic to be taught. If possible, mark the important things of the topic in your book. Try to identify the keywords. Know them as well as you can.

Be an active listener in the class. Your preparation of the topic will help you a lot in this. Take note of important things in an organized way. Raise questions in the class and also try to answer the questions that are raised in the classroom.

Back home, read your notes as well as the textbook. Learn things using effective thinking skills. Remember that math is based on logic. Your learning of general thinking skills can help your math learning a lot. While reading, raise good questions and then try to answer them yourself. Use questioning to cover all aspects of the topic in sufficient depth. Whenever needed, seek help of others like your math teacher, study group, fellow students, tutor and the internet.

A great way to improve learning is to write the ideas you have learnt. You must use your own words for those ideas. Also try to write your own thoughts about them.

Problem solving skills are of great importance to good math grades. Practice problems everyday. Work out a problem one step at a time. Discuss math problems with others in case you need to do so.

Problem solving is a skill that is based on application of math principles. You are required to construct logical solution to problems. It is very important that you develop your thinking skills. Also appreciate pure and fine nature of math thinking.

I will take the example of simple one variable linear equations to show what you may do for a test preparation.

Thinking creates a definite relationship like an equation 2*x* + 5 = 11 . Further thinking of the relationship leads to the solution of the equation. Here is the first step to the solution

‘If 5 added to 2x equals 11, then 5 subtracted from 11 must equal 2x’. So

2*x* + 5 = 11

2*x* = 11 – 5

2*x* = 6

Applying more logic leads to the solution given below

2*x* = 6

*x* = 6/2

*x* = 3

A word problem involving a simple equation like the one given above would often require creating the equation based on the given real-world situation. Again you are required to interpret the situation logically to create the equation.

It will be useful if you view the principles of equations retrospectively while practicing equation problems. For example how equations define relationships and how are they of such great use. Fundamental uses of equations in word problems will make you understand the motivation for their discovery a long time ago. While manipulating equation variables, you will appreciate their importance very closely. See the related article in this blog entitled How to Make your Math Learning Effective.

Do your school homework first. But give extra time to math in run-up to your test.

Focus on keywords. Identify and master key concepts of the test topic before you get involved with details. Seek help if you find difficulty in identifying or understanding key concepts.

Teaching others is a great way of improving you own learning. You can help one or more of your peers learn a math topic.

Use visual imagery in the form of diagrams, graphs, charts etc.

Concept maps are very useful to describe relationships among math concepts. They are graphic and present relationships in an easy to learn manner. You can study concept maps. It will be very productive if you learn to draw concept maps to improve your math learning.

Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida has a very useful website which has a number of math concept maps. They are really good. Here is a link to one of the concept maps on the site. The concept map is entitled What are equations and how do equations appear in beginning science and mathematics?

If you have trouble in memorizing, use flashcards for memorization and repeating. Use mnemonics as an aid to memorization if you have problems. Memorize only concepts. Don’t memorize solutions to problems. YouTube has a number of very good videos on using flashcards and mnemonics for improvement of math learning.

Reject the notion that you cannot be good at math. Take math seriously and stay motivated.

**Taking a Test**

- Read the whole test before you start.
- Do questions with most points first.
- If you have problems with some question read it carefully and come back to it later.
- Use all available time.
- Keep an eye on time. Assign time to each question beforehand.
- Be positive, don’t give up and try your best.
- Use marking with a question that you find hard to understand. Read it more than once at intervals.

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