Studying for Math Tests

studying for math tests

One of the comments I hear year after year from students and their parents alike is “you can’t study for math – you either know it or you don’t”.  After hearing that comment over and over again I decided a couple of years ago to address that misconception at the very beginning of the year before I have to hear it!  I like to give my students several different ideas for how they can prepare for my tests and quizzes the first week of school.  On back to school night (which is 2-3 weeks into the school year for me), I go over that same list of ideas with the parents.

My plan this year is to print out the following list on half-sheets of paper and have the students glue it into their notebooks on one of the first days of class.  Here is my list:

  • Study the vocabulary words.  This can be done in many ways and you can use the same techniques you use to study vocabulary words for any subject (i.e. index cards).  It is important to keep in mind, though, that simply memorizing definitions is not enough.  I will rarely ask you to define a word on a test.  I am much more likely to ask questions that require you to use the vocabulary words to demonstrate your understanding rather than your memorization. 
  • Reread your notes.  Look over the example problems from both your notes and the textbook to refresh your memory on how to solve the problems.  Then “teach” your parents or friends how to do a particular type of problem by describing the process or steps to take to solve it.  If you are able to successfully explain how to solve a problem to someone else, then you must have a good understanding of that topic!
  • Most importantly, try some problems!  The only way you will know if you really understand the material is by trying to solve problems.  Find problems that you have already completed and corrected and solve them without looking at your answer.  Then check to see if you get the correct answer.  Your textbook has the answers to some of the problems in the back of the book.  Try those problems, too, and then check your answers.  You can also find practice problems on the textbook website.  Once you check your answers, if they are incorrect you need to retry the problem.  If you still can not get the correct answer, ask for help.  This is, by far, the most effective way to study for math tests.  The more problems you solve successfully, the more prepared you will be for the test or quiz!

 

I always reinforce the idea that these are just suggestions and that there are other ways to study math, as well, but I try to emphasize that no matter what other techniques they use they really do need to try problems.  (I also kind of “force” them to try problems by assigning a practice test for homework two nights before a test because I know that no matter how many times I say it there will always be students who choose not to study!)

 

How do you get your students to study/prepare for your tests and quizzes?

Share Button

Making Expectations Clear from the Very Beginning

As pretty much any teacher would say, it can’t be stressed enough just how important it is to set clear expectations for your students from the first day of school.  This includes expectations for behavior and routines in the classroom, as well as academic expectations.

Over the years I have revised the way that I have gone over these academic expectations with students many times.  I am pretty happy with the syllabus I handed out to my students last year and think that I will use something very similar this year since it did work out well for me.  I try to keep it relatively short (my syllabus is one page, front and back) because I figure that most students probably won’t read it if I make it too long.  You can see a copy of my syllabus below:

DSCN1033

In my opinion the purpose of a syllabus is basically to tell your students how they can be successful in your class.  That is why I include on mine how they will be graded, what they need to bring to class, and how they can get extra help if they are struggling.

The best thing about giving students a syllabus on the first day:  not having to deal with “You didn’t tell us….” or “I didn’t know…” comments throughout the year as you can just refer students back to the syllabus where it is all clearly stated.

If you like my syllabus and want to adjust it for your own classroom, click on the image below to download a free editable copy of it:

 free editable syllabus

 

For more first day of school ideas you can use in your math classroom, check out my “Back to School Math Activities for Middle School“!  It includes games I play with my students after going over the syllabus, as well as a good first week problem solving activity/bulletin board display.  It’s typically $5, but grab it today (August 4th) or tomorrow while it’s on sale for 28% off with code BTS14!

b2s pic1

If you have any ideas on how to improve my syllabus or would like to share what you include on yours, please feel free to leave me a comment!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

Share Button