One of the most common tutoring requests we receive relates to struggles with math and in particular, math anxiety.
For many students, doing math homework or the thought of writing math tests or exams can cause negative thoughts from the fear of failure. It can also lead to challenges with the disruption of working memory, which is key to succeed in math even at a young age.
Math anxiety can be caused by a number of things including:
- Public fear: Having a bad experience answering a question incorrectly in class
- Time pressure on tests or exams
- Reliance on learning math through memorizing procedures rather than truly understanding the concepts
We asked our team of math tutors for their advice on how to succeed with learning, studying and writing math exams / tests:
1) Ask questions from your teacher or peers, whether it is in class or after school
2) Be consistent & persistent. Learn from mistakes and keep trying problems and questions that you have challenges in to learn. Working consistently on math will help to build a base of skills over time.
3) Start small: For the first couple of days spend 15-30 minutes on math and as you build confidence work on longer and more challenging problems.
4) Make math fun through interests. For example if a student likes sports, connect math to sports themes.
5) Practice regularly, especially if you are having challenges with a specific concept. Having worked through a specific problem or question in the past will help you succeed during test or exam time.
6) Last and more important, have a positive attitude and re-position challenges into positive experiences.
When our calculator is out, graphing paper in front of us and we are scribbling SIN, COS and TAN we know it is Math Exam season. After a long year or semester of Advanced Functions, Data Management or Calculus we know how challenging it can be to study for exams with the warm summer temperatures.
Fortunately, we put together some tried and true methods to help you succeed when studying for math exams.
1) Start as early and often as possible and avoid cramming the night before the exam.
2) Create a distraction free study environment. Math requires more focus than most subjects.
3) List of all the topics that will be covered on the exam to ensure you do not miss any of the material.
4) Summarize important formulas and concepts. Practice writing the formulas out so when the math exam begins you are able write all the key formulas down.
5) Avoid memorizing – Understand the math problem or question.
6) Ask for help. Your teacher can be an excellent resource. As you are studying, note the questions you are struggling with and ask for support.
7) Use your text book to see examples of prior questions and proofs and try to do as many homework problems as possible to get practice with different types of questions.
8) Study Groups – Once you have a good understanding of the material, joining a study group in the right environment can be helpful to get help with the remaining questions or topics you are having challenges with.
9) Practice Exams – If there are any available, practice with them and give yourself a time limit.
10) Reduce Exam stress – see our article on Coping with Stress During Exams for excellent strategies and techniques.
11) Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam.