Testing Tips for Math and Science Exams

The way to approach math and science exams can be much different than other subjects. Follow the tips below and you will go into your next exam (SAT, ACT or other test) confident and well-equipped for any technical exam.

Learn the vocabulary of the subject matter

You must understand the content-specific terms to get through any exam. Prepare a concise list of all pertinent vocabulary and memorize them before taking the exam.

Translate problems into English

Putting problems into words can be an easy trick to help complete a confusing question. For example, the Pythagorean Theorem, A2+B2 = C2, could be translated into, “The square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the square of the other two sides.” Additionally, annotating the questions by circling, underlining, and writing notes in the margin, can break down confusing questions into bite-sized pieces that are easier to digest.

Time Yourself

Students often find it difficult to finish math and science exams within the time allotted. Time yourself when doing practice problems. Make it fun by competing with friends to see who can finish a set of problems first.

Analyze before solving

For the questions that are worth more points, slow down and read them twice before solving. When taking the time to analyze a problem, you will often identify new ways of solving and even figure out helpful shortcuts. Methods like combining factors or canceling numbers may be shortcuts that you have learned before, but they are easy to forget when faced with the mental stresses of exam. A relaxed mind will better recall your stored data.

Draw it

Visual representation can be an easy tool to help solve technical problems. Drawing activates new parts of the brain that create new ways of approaching a problem. Your instructor may be inclined to give you partial credit if s/he sees that you tried different methods to solve the questions.


Calculating quick estimations will help double check your work. Start a problem by estimating the solution, that way if your calculations go awry, you can correct the error quickly.

Check your work

If you have extra time when you finish your exam, go back and check your work. Even the most seasoned of test-takers make simple mistakes. Did you include the correct units in your answer? Did you bubble in your answer in the correct place? A few small mistakes can have large impacts on your grade. Spend the extra few minutes and lock down that “A” grade.

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