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Testing Smart In Math Without Anxiety

Updated on February 10, 2012

Getting Better Grades On Math Tests

Perhaps no subject strikes more terror in students than math. and no test or exam brings students to their academic knees than mathematics.

While general test taking or test proofing concepts apply to all subjects -- math requires several techniques that can help the math student get better grades on math tests.


Here Are Some Of My Favorite Math Test Proofing Tips

  • Look at every problem -- Just like with other exams in other subjects -- read through the exam first. Mostly, this is about looking for what is called for.
  • Analyze problems carefully -- Sort the problems by type. Take the "givens" into account. Write down any formulas, theorems, or definitions that apply before you begin. That way you can focus on what you want to find or prove, and take your time to be accurate.
  • Estimate answers before you begin to come up with a "possible" solution -- Work the math problem and check the answer against your estimate. The two answers should be close. If they aren't, recheck your calculations. You may have made a simple calculation error.
  • Break down the calculation into the smaller possible pieces -- Make sure that you do the problem step-by-step. Don't move on to the next step until you are sure you've made the right step before it. Look for simple patterns like addition, subtraction, etc.
  • Remember how you solved similar math problems -- This can give you valuable clues to getting the correct answer.
  • There is some merit in drawing a picture (if you are a visual learner) to help you see the math problem -- this can help.
  • Above all - be neat -- When it comes to numbers, mistaken identity can make all the difference between a right answer and a wrong answer.
  • Check your work -- this can't be emphasized enough -- once you have completed all math problems go back and check your answer by working backwards to see if you are right.
  • Review all math problems -- to make sure that you did everything that was asked in the problem -- ask yourself -- Did I answer every part of the questions? Did I show all my required work?


Allegory of Arithmetic - Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.
Allegory of Arithmetic - Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland. | Source

Coping With Math Anxiety

Math anxiety is the uncomfortable feelings associated with what is known to educators as quantitative thinking.

There is a popular myth when it comes to math, that some people are born with or without the ability to think quantitatively. This means that the idea that real math successes are able to do math in their heads. While true, some people can do math easily without aids -- they are the extreme exceptions, not the rule.

Most people who preform poorly in math, often do so because it was the first subject in school that they didn't instantly or quickly "get." Many just simply give up at a grade school level and since learning math is a "cumulative thing" -- they got further and further behind and often ended up feeling like a failure in math or because of math.

No One Needs To Feel Unnecessarily Anxious About Math


Tips To Reduce Your Math Anxiety

  1. Overcome your negative self-image about math -- you can learn math even if it is not easy for you.
  2. Always ask questions of your math teacher and your friends and if need be seek outside tutoring.
  3. Think of math as a foreign language -- it needs to be practiced often to be learned completely and competently.
  4. Don't study math by trying to memorize information as you do other subjects.
  5. Memorize the math formulas.
  6. Read your math book carefully.
  7. Get help the same day you do not understand how to do a problem or a concept.
  8. Be relaxed and comfortable when you study math and don't put off math assignments until everything else is done -- do it first when you are less tired.
  9. Talk mathematics -- yes, I know that is foreign -- but sometimes forming a study group for such subjects can be very helpful, especially the higher in math you go.
  10. Develop a sense of responsibility for your own successes and failures and address you weaknesses.


Test Taking Stratigies - Math

Creepy Math Test Anxiety - Relax and Don't Cram


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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks BrianS! I was afraid I had not offered enough tips on this subject.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      This really is good advice for so many students, there must be loads who under perform at test times for all the wrong reasons. This hub is a great way to help them avoid at least some of those problems.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks RNMSN! You are probably on the right track, attitude is everything. Of course, perhaps maturity and focus probably made the math more interesting too.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Az

      This is wonderful JeriLee!! I was poor at math and had to take two semesters in college (Terrible too, as Im nurse) funny thing is, when it comes to nursing math I do fantastic! I have often wondered if the reason is due to the problems being in metric/which was super easy to learn and makes more 'sense to me'/or was it due to the fact that I loved nursing and wasnt about to let anything get in the way of that?

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks R Burow!

      Thanks KCC Big Country!

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Great advice, Jerilee! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      R Burow 

      9 years ago

      Excellent information. I think you were spot on.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Duchess Oblunt! I used to be someone who was very intimadated by math and am a firm believer that more students should be taught from an early age how to take tests right along with how to study.

      Thanks Aya! Exams are unfortunately a necessary evil as teachers do need a measuremant to assess how much is being absorbed and retained by students -- still it's a pet peeve of mine, that many school systems don't give students the tools to do their best and to build confidence when facing exams. We're tested all our lives, not just in school.

      Some of us instinctively seem to be good test takers. However, too many teachers depend upon multiple choice tests and other methods, because they are lazy when it comes to grading.

      Sorry if that offends any teachers (it's a rough job). Some students who are not good test takers can be the smartest and know the material better and it is so disheartening when you see their self esteem crumble.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, thanks for this excellent hub. I will encourage Sword to look at it. The video about eliminating wrong answers was brilliant!

      However, between you and me, this just demonstrates how ineffective multiple choice exams really are at distinguishing between students who actually know the material being tested on, and students who are merely good test takers!

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      Great Hub! I will be passing this one on. Good work. thanks for taking the time to put this all together

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks jayb23! Trying to share what little I know.

      Thanks ralwus! Probably like me, I've forgotten more than I probably knew.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Good advice Jeri. Thankfully I never had that problem. I think I might would now tho'. LOL forgot too much.

    • jayb23 profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Brilliant hub. I wish I had read something like this in school, I would have fared better. Anyways keep up the good work.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks cindyvine! Hope it helps. Am doing a series on test taking tips and study strategies.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Excellent advise here, am going to get my daughter to read it!


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