DURING THE TEST
Remember, if possible, sit at the front of the room. By doing so, you will be less distracted by what the other students are doing and you will be able to concentrate more on what you need to do.
Carefully read the instructions at the beginning of the test before starting any problem.
Go to a problem that is familiar to you. You don’t always have to work the problems in sequence. So begin with one that you are confident you can work correctly. You will be less likely to engage in negative self-talk. Fears of failing will not be as likely to enter your mind.
When you work the problems you know best, you will make positive progress toward completing the test. Knowing that you are making progress will make you feel more confident and relaxed. If you get stuck on any problem, do not spend too much time trying to work it. Work the problems you know first, then return to the difficult ones later. Your concentration will be much better.
Focus all your attention on the problem you’re working on. Don’t let your feelings about a prior problem interfere with your performance on the current one. Keep your emotions under control. Anger or frustration will get in the way of what you can do. For example, tennis professionals are often faced wi a bad play or call tht can interfere with their ability to concentrate. Consistent winners ignore such distractions and concentrate on each individual play. Remember that each problem is a separate chance to score points.
Show all your work! It is impossible to get partial credit for a problem when you have only written the answer and it is wrong. Most math problems require several steps of work to get to the answer. When you take shortcuts or try to do too much in your head you will be more likely to make careless errors.
Watch out for careless errors! Sometimes the best attach is a good defense. Professional athletes say one of the secrets to success is avoiding mistakes.
Far too many students could have scored 10 to 20 points higher on a test if the simply would have been careful. Even when you get partial credit for a problem, those one to two points off for each careless error add up quickly and, in some cases, will be the difference between passing or failing, or making an A instead of a B. When you work the steps to a problem, double check each step before you go to the next. In this way you will eliminate careless errors before working too far into the problem. It is easier to catch mistakes right away than to try to find them later.
Another way to catch careless errors is by recognizing when a step or answer doesn’t make sense. For instance, if you are working a problem which requires you to multiply 8.14 x 7.974, you would expect the answer to be close to 8 x 8 or 64 because both 8.14 and 7.974 are close in value to 8. So if you get an answer of 649.0836, you should know that you have made the careless mistake of misplacing the decimal point. Mathematics involves common sense. Take advantage of your own basic knowledge when working math problems.
When taking a multiple choice test, read carefully for what the problem is asking. The read and think through all the choices. Whoever made up the test has probably thought of all the wrong ways to read and answer the question, so those choices will be there, too. Thus, what appears to be the most obvious is not always correct. Don’t just select the first familiar answer. You’re avoiding math when you move too quickly to the next problem.
Watch out for negative self-talk and anxiety. Do not let negative self-talk fool you into thinking you cannot do something before you have had the chance to give your best effort. Do not be afraid to try. Trying helps you learn, even if you do “fail.” And remember, you are only takin a test; you are not being physically threatened, and you are not going “to die.” Any test is just one of many that you will have face in life. The more you take them, the more you will get used to them. And the more you control your negative self-talk and anxiety, the better you will do.