Category Archives: Habits for Success

Exams Ahead!

The students with whom I work are heading into midterm exams.  For some of them, the mathematics concepts and procedures come easily, and others have to work harder to feel confident in their understanding.  All of them can benefit from diligent preparation, and although a few still resist, here is the advice I am giving:


  1. Do the whole review packet and check your work against the solution key.  It isn’t optional. Show your mathematical thinking so you can analyze your process.
  1. Review past tests and quizzes, looking at both the questions you got wrong and the correct ones.  Even if you got it right in earlier in the semester, make sure you remember how to do it now.  Re-do the questions, don’t just “read it over”.
  1. The more practice and review you can do BEFORE you get to the review session, the more productive the time will be.  Mark the ones you get wrong and/or don’t know how to do so you have a list of questions ready.  Don’t wait til the last minute to start studying.
  1. Keep track of important formulas, graphs, examples & concepts on a self-created study guide.  Do it as you go through the review packet.  If you need to memorize something, write it out each time you use it until you know it. If you need to be able to solve something without a calculator, practice it that way.
  1. Make use of other resources: if your teacher has a website, go back to unit review sheets and solution guides from the semester. Check another teacher’s website from your school if your teacher doesn’t have one.  Work with a classmate, but don’t merely divide up the work: make sure you both can complete the problems.  Utilize Khan Academy, YouTube & Google.
  1. Cumulative exams are challenging; scores are often somewhat lower than your typical quiz/test scores have been.  However, remember to be confident in the things you know—yes it is a big job to prepare, but you can do it!
  1.  Take care of yourself physically over these weeks:
  • eat right and choose healthy snacks (think protein/fiber not sugar)
  • stay hydrated (more water less soda)
  • stay active because it helps relieve stress and is good for your brain: go to sports practice, work out or run or shoot hoops, or even just take the dog for a brisk walk during a study break
  • wash your hands frequently, etc. so you don’t get the bugs that will inevitably be going around
  • get enough sleep: it is far more important for your brainpower to sleep an extra hour than cram an extra hour.

Good luck!