I’m often asked by my middle and upper school students how best to prepare for a math test. There is only one way, actually, which is similar to how you prepare for a sports event—you practice.
Now, what’s important is to practice the right thing in the right way. The right thing is your homework, quizzes and in-class notes. Homework needs to be complete and correct with all steps shown. The same goes for your in-class notes and quizzes. If your test will also cover material that was on a previous test, then add it to your practice list. Make sure you have the corrections for each problem you missed.
Next comes the right way to practice. Take out a separate sheet of paper, write down each type of problem, and do it without looking at your homework, notes, quizzes and previous tests. You’ll know you’re practicing in the right way if you discover that you can’t do many of the problems. Those problems, the one’s you don’t remember how to do, you must redo until you can do them correctly without looking at your homework and notes.
The above process must be on-going, meaning you must practice every day, even if your teacher has not assigned homework for that day. Practicing every day has the added benefit of improving your grades on any pop quizzes that might come before the test. Waiting to study until the day before the test is called cramming, which usually yields poor results.
In addition to doing the above, you must also meet with your teacher whenever you discover you don’t know how to do a particular problem. From my experience, I can guarantee that you’ll see that problem on the test.
Remember, the secret to doing well is consistency. Work every day and you’ll reap the rewards.