Math/Calculations

On math tests and other exams involving calculations, the final answer to a question will typically be a number. Math tests are very objective in that there is only one correct answer to a question, so arriving at this answer is essential to get a good grade. Just a few tips for taking math exams are:

    • Write down all of the formulas at the beginning: Before you begin reading the test, write down all of the formulas that you had to memorize on a piece of scrap paper, and keep this sheet in front of you during the exam. This will help you to ensure that you won’t forget the formulas because you are nervous, and will give you a list of possible formulas that you will be able to refer to as you answer each question.
  • Show all steps: The most important thing is to arrive at the correct answer, but some teachers may award points even if you made a simple calculation error as long as your method is correct. For this reason, it’s important to show all of the steps that you took to arrive at your answer.
  • Double check all of your work and answers: Plan your time in such a way that you will be able to double check all of your calculations. It’s easy to write down a number incorrectly or push the wrong button on a calculator, and double checking your work can help you catch these mistakes.
  • Include important values and measurements: Reading the question carefully can help you determine whether values or measurements should be included in your answer. Questions that ask about rates, time, distance, speed, length, volume, or width should be answered with a number and a value. Instead of a response of “5,” for instance, your answer should be “5 miles/hour,” “5 cm,” “5 seconds,” etc.
  • Use the correct number of significant digits: In other words, round off your answers appropriately. There is a lengthy set of rules regarding significant digits. If these rules were taught in class, follow them while you are taking the test. If not, test instructions will often indicate that your answers should be rounded off to the nearest tenth or the nearest hundredth. This means that if the answer on your calculator is 15.1129438, the answer on your test paper should be 15.1 or 15.11.

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