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Posts Tagged as "math test"

How to ace your math final exam (without losing your mind)

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Are you getting ready for math finals… maybe even your first math final ever? Are you uncertain how to study and prepare?

Or, if you’re a parent, not a student, does the thought of getting through your kid’s math final fill you with dread?

This week, since I’m right in the middle of preparing several of my students for their final math exams, I want to share all my best math studying tips with you – whether you’re a student or a parent – so you can happily survive finals week with a minimum of stress.

This is the exact same process I walk my students through, and also the exact same powerful tips I share with my private clients!

And I’m not just going to share my own tips – I’m also going to share some of my students’ tips, too!

First, just some basic overall tips about the big picture of taking your math final, especially if it’s your first one:

1. Breathe. If thinking about your math final, or your kid’s math final, sends you into a panic, keep breathing. Just keep breathing deeply. If you forget, you can start again right now. Take a deep breath. Right now. You can do this. Take three deep breaths. Yes. That’s right!

2. Eat. Make sure that you’re getting really good meals all throughout finals week. You want to keep nourishing your brain with high quality protein! Also, you will be less stressed, more receptive when studying, and find it easier to retain what you’re learning when your blood sugar isn’t careening all over the place.

If you’re the parent, making sure you get good nutrition this week is also important and will make it easier to be calm and loving with your kid if they need help from you.

3. Sleep. I know! It is important to get good sleep all through finals week – not just the night before the test! (Even if you’re the parent!) You will get WAY more out of your study sessions if you are getting good sleep every night. And actually, if you have to choose between studying and sleeping, you’ll get higher grades if you choose to sleep. (Counterintuitive but true!)

Just doing those three simple things alone will help. Now let me share with you the exact play-by-play study plan one of my star students and I just created.

Before finals week…

1. At least a week before finals week, make a study plan for the entire week.

2. Pace yourself. Be realistic about how much studying you can get done each day of finals week. If you have another final the next morning, it probably isn’t going to be a big math study day, and that’s OK.

3. Break it up. If you have a big review packet due for homework, don’t plan on doing it all in one giant lump. Doing three math packets all in one afternoon is probably not the best plan.

4. Make sure to build in some wiggle room. That way if you don’t get all of your study packets done as planned, you still have time to get it done before your math final and before your study packet is due.

5. Expect to have questions, and plan accordingly. As part of your overall study plan, expect that there will be some problems, topics, or concepts you’ll want to get outside help with.

Factor this into your study schedule so at the latest, two days before the test, you can turn to your parents, teacher, or trusted math-savvy friends to get your questions answered. Then the day before you can just focus on reviewing what you’ve already clarified.

When you start studying…

6. If you really need to prioritize your studying time, when you start going through your study packet, look for the hard, confusing, unfamiliar problems and try to work on them first. That way you’ll know what you have questions about as soon as possible. If this freaks you out, don’t worry, that’s okay. Just back up and do easier problems that are related to that topic to build up to the harder problems.

7. When you get to a problem you don’t remember how to do, make an easy, simplified version of the problem. A lot of times this is all it takes to remember exactly what to do.

For example, let’s say you need to convert 5.6% from a percent to a decimal. You might think, “OMG, I have no idea what to do, how can I convert it to a decimal when it already has a decimal in it…??!!” First, make a simpler version of the same problem. Just say you need to convert 5% from a percent to a decimal. Ok, now you remember you just need to move the decimal point two spaces to the left, so it will be .05. Great! Now it’s easier to see that with 5.6%, you also just need to move the deciaml point two spaces to the left, so it would be .056. Now we’re back on track! (And by the way, this is what professional mathematicians do when they get stuck.

8. As you go through your study packets, make a list of the equations you need to have memorized for your math exam. Practice writing them down from memory so by the day of your math final they are no big deal.

9. Plan to take breaks. And then actually take breaks. This will help you remember things better, keep you from getting too stressed out, and also makes the whole process more enjoyable. Take breaks that rest your eyes (from all that reading), your neck (from having it at that “reading angle”), and your brain (from thinking so hard). Pay attention to what actually helps you feel refreshed – maybe walking around the block or taking a dance break will replenish you more than checking facebook, for example.

The countdown to the final…

10. The day before the test, plan on reviewing
what you’ve already practiced and understand.

11. Be sure to do something fun and relaxing the night before the exam, like watching one of your favorite movies or listening to your favorite music.

12. If this would help you feel super prepared, pack your bag with everything you need so you won’t need to worry about it the morning of the test.

13. Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
(This probably the most important thing you could do of all!)

14. The morning of your test, be sure to get a good breakfast with lots of protein.

15. A great tip from one of my very successful students: On your way to school, don’t study in the car. At this point, you really either know it or you don’t. Just listen to some of your favorite relaxing music, for example.

16. Be sure to get to the location of your math final early
so you’re not worried about being late.

During the final…

17. Another tip from one of my successful students: When you get your math final, close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and then open your eyes to begin. This will help you focus.

18. Write down all of the equations you need to know at the top of the page before you even look at any of the problems. That way you won’t need to worry about keeping them in your brain while you’re going through the test. It will be way more relaxing knowing they’re already written down and right there for you.

19. Once you start going through the test, make sure to do the easy problems first.

20. No one problem is worth a lot of your time or worth freaking out over. So if you find yourself getting really bogged down, stop, mark the problem so you know to come back to it later, and move on. You can always come back to it later after you’ve gotten the easier points first.

21. If you come to a problem where you don’t know what to do:

-take a deep breath and read it again (this tip directly comes from one of my students)
-if you’re not sure what to do, mark it and come back to it later
-when you come back to it later, experiment with creating an easy version to see if that reminds you how to do it (like you did while you were studying)
-a tip from one of my students: sit in silence with your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths, and go through your mental math files to see if you get any ideas.

22. If other kids are finishing earlier than you, don’t worry.
Just because someone turns in their exam before you do doesn’t mean that they actually got the problems right. (Not that we would want this to happen to anyone, but they might be turning it in quickly because they gave up and didn’t finish!)

23. Throughout the entire exam, remember, it’s just an exam.
If you get a point off, it’s not the end of the world. (This is an exact quote from one of my students!)

After the math final, when you’re still at school…

24. Remember, right after the final is over, it’s up to you whether or not you want to discuss the test with your classmates. If that is helpful to you, go for it! If it makes you stressed, or you just like to keep your experience private, you don’t have to talk about it with anyone!

25. If you do talk with other students about what answers you got, don’t worry if they got a different answer than you. Just because they got a different answer doesn’t mean that they’re right!

After you leave the school building…

26. If you’re the parent: don’t ask your kid “How was your math final?” We’re socially conditioned to say, “fine,” “good,” or “great.” This isn’t actually very informative. And it doesn’t encourage the student to reflect.

You’ll get a lot more information out of your kid – and encourage them to analyze their experience – if you ask, “What was your math final like?” Then they can share the experience with you more fully without it being about “I did great” or “I did horribly.”

27. Be sure to celebrate! Give your parents a hug, have a dance party in your room, eat some ice cream, sing your favorite song, or just do whatever feels like a celebration to you. You just finished your math final!! YAY!! Party time!!

28. When you get your test results back, focus on learning from your experience.
If you did amazing, what did you do to create that awesome result? Be super specific with yourself about what worked so you can do it again next time and get great results again! If your results aren’t what you wanted, expected, or hoped for, what could you do differently in the future?

If you want next year’s math finals to be a way better experience for your entire family, and you’re ready to receive high-level, exclusive one-on-one support that is not typical tutoring, I would love to talk to you.

To get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs, just click here.

Sending you love,

Related posts:
How to get started when you have no idea what to do
When doing your math homework just isn’t cutting it
What to do when you get a disappointing math test grade
How to experience math as your own unique creation

Posts Tagged as "math test"

What to do when you get a disappointing math test grade

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Recently, one of my students shared with me she’d gotten a disappointing test grade. At first, instead of analyzing what went wrong and figuring out what she could do differently, she started blaming her teacher, saying she didn’t know what was going to be on the test, and started panicking, trying to calculate how the disappointing grade would affect her overall grade.

I thought this was so interesting, because this student has a completely different mindset when it comes to her passion of musical theater. We talked through what would happen if she made a mistake at a big audition, like missing a high note.

She laughed and she said, “Well, I wouldn’t blame the pianist for sneezing and then singing the wrong note because I was matching the pitch of his sneeze! I would figure out why I missed the note, and ask for help from my singing teacher so I could be more accurate next time!”

Somehow, she knew exactly how to adjust her approach with musical theater, and we talked about how to transfer that over to her math mastery process.

So let me share this exact same process with you – what to do and NOT to do when you’ve gotten a disappointing math test, so you won’t get stuck and can keep moving forward and creating what you want in your life.

1. Don’t despair.
Even if you feel like you got EVERYTHING wrong, there is hope. It just means there are things you haven’t learned yet, and if you work on them, you will improve. I’m serious!

2. Don’t internalize the failure.
A lot of times, when you get a crappy grade on a math test, it’s easy to think, “I will never get this,” “I am not a math person,” or “I guess I just don’t have a ‘math’ brain.” I know, because I used to have those thoughts all the time myself. Somehow getting a bad grade becomes like part of your identity! Even if everything feels completely, utterly impossible, remember, math is something EVERYONE can learn. It’s all about breaking it down and practicing.

3. Don’t give up.
A failure is only a true failure if you don’t use it as an opportunity to learn.

4. Don’t blame others for what happened.
It’s really easy when you get a test back to think, “Well, my teacher didn’t tell me THAT was going to be on the test,” or, “I didn’t know the test was going to be THAT day,” or whatever it is. But when you blame others, you completely give away your power to someone else.


5. Take personal responsibility for what happened. When you take personal responsibility, you have the power to change your life. If you are willing to look at what actions you took and choices you made, you can change them and get a different result next time.

(Note: I know this can seem so hard, even ridiculous, to say, “Yes, I’M taking responsibility for the fact that I don’t get this.” I used to REALLY struggle with this. So maybe just try it as an experiment. Being willing to take more and more responsibility for the results of my choices has created so much change in my life. Even though I really resisted this initially.)

(And, taking personal responsibility can be as simple as admitting to yourself, “Yes, I do need help with this, and I’m willing to ask for it.)

6. Ask yourself what went wrong. Did you not know what was going to be on the test? Did you forget to study?

7. Ask yourself what you can do differently next time.
Can you ask your teacher for a list of topics to study? Can you write the test date into your planner, or put it into your phone? What will remind you to study?

8. Make a different choice.
Decide to ask your teacher for topics, and then do so. Write the test date into your planner. Create a reminder to study, and then study!

9. Ask for help.
If you are doing everything you can and you’re still not getting the results you want, ask for help! You don’t have to do this alone!

Do you wish someone could help walk you through this process and help you learn the parts that are confusing to you in a way that is fun and makes total sense? Are you tired of getting disappointing test results? Are you willing to invest in high-level support?

Then I invite you to apply for my one-on-one math tutoring programs!

Just click here to get started with your special application. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m excited to receive your application!

Sending you love,

Related posts:
It’s eraser time! (and other math mantras)
How to make it safe for kids to fail
Failure is not the enemy
The rhyme and reason of making mistakes

Posts Tagged as "math test"

Three simple tips for the night before your math exam

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Do you find yourself tired, hungry, and rushed the morning of your math tests? Do you wish you could feel more prepared and confident, not only in your mind, but also in your body? Here are three simple tips you can use the night before any math test so you can feel relaxed and secure.

Pack a proteiny snack for exam day.
To give your brain some extra fuel, pack a snack with lots of protein, like nuts, cheese and apple slices, or yogurt. This way you can be sure you won’t be crazed by hunger when it’s time to take your exam.

Get a good night’s sleep, no matter what.
Staying up late to study the night before is not the best way to be prepared, because your fatigue will make it harder to concentrate and recall the material you DO know when you’re actually taking your exam. Plus, if you don’t have time to get much sleep between the late-night study session and your test, your brain won’t have a chance to organize and store the material that you were learning, so it will be hard to remember what you tried to learn during the late-night study session. Plan and pace your study time so you don’t have a big rush to cram the night before a test.

If it’s a routine test, take the time to do some practice problems and review anything you need to have memorized the night before, but wrap up your studying with plenty of time to get to bed and feel relaxed about getting a good night’s sleep. If it’s a really big test, like an end-of-year exam or state standards test, the best thing to do the night before is just to rest and relax after doing a little light review just to reassure yourself that you’ve got it down.

Plan ahead to make sure you get a good breakfast.
Make sure your breakfast has a lot of protein – like eggs, meat, yogurt, or fish – to fuel your brain for the long run. Check your fridge or ask your parents to take you to the grocery store in advance to make sure you have exactly what you need. Avoid toast, cereal, juice, or pop tarts, which will make your blood sugar spike, leaving you spacey and disoriented when it’s time to concentrate on your test.

It is amazing how much of a difference good sleep and good food can make – especially when combined with being knowing the material inside and out!

If you’d like to go beyond these basics to feel way more confident walking into your next math test, just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m here for you, and I’m so glad we’re connected!

Sending you love,