For some college students “math test” are the two most terrifying words in the English language. This can be compounded when you’re taking an online course and being tested online. You can’t ask the teacher of a self-paced course for extra help, after all. And you may worry about taking an important test without seeing an instructor in person.
It’s no surprise that online math tests can be worrying; according to researchers, about 93% of U.S. adults say they experience some level of math anxiety, and about 17% suffer from high levels of math anxiety. When you’re taking a math course, high levels of math anxiety might seem insurmountable.
Those anxieties might seem worse when a student is faced with taking a test alone at home, but that doesn’t need to be the case. By taking your time with each question, preparing well, and understanding how you approach tests, you can be successful (and not too stressed) when you sit down to take your online math test.
Online Math Test Taking Tips
Online math tests might seem scary, but they’re just like any other test; by developing good study and test taking habits, you can take your test and do well.
Be prepared for multiple choice: Online tests aren’t quite like in-person tests; in a live test, you’re usually asked to solve a problem, showing your work. Many online tests, however, are multiple choice or you will have to provide a correct math answer. This can be intimidating for students who’d prefer to show the professor how they got to an answer, but it need not be. As a student in an online course, you already have the tools you need to take this test, and do well.
Don’t skip right to the answers: It can be tempting to skim the question and then try to see which answer fits best. Instead, spend your time on the question. Read the entire question first, and try to answer the question without looking at the choices. If one answer matches the one you came up with, it’s likely correct.
Eliminate wrong or unlikely answers. Once you’ve read the question and tried to answer it yourself, you can move down to the answer choices. If you can eliminate any answers that you know are wrong or unlikely, you’ll increase your chances of choosing the correct answer.
Manage your test time well: Online tests are sometimes timed, so don’t get hung up on any one question at first. You need to see all the questions, so you can answer the ones you definitely know. When you come across a question you’re unsure about, write the number down and return to it later on.
Preparing for Math Test Anxiety
It’s ok to be nervous before a big test. Like math anxiety, test anxiety is a real thing. According to the Mayo Clinic, test anxiety is more than just a case of the jitters. You have test anxiety if your worries and feelings of self-doubt interfere with your ability to take your test. It can also affect anyone, so if you’re already stressed, suffer from an anxiety disorder, have had poor experiences with tests in the past, or suffer from math anxiety, you may come down with a case of test anxiety before a big online math test.
If you have test anxiety, you might have physical symptoms, like an upset stomach or nausea, a racing heart, shortness of breath, or headaches. You can also have mental or emotional symptoms, like feelings of disappointment or helplessness, difficulty concentrating, or comparing yourself negatively to others.
Sometimes, test anxiety is a result of feeling underprepared for a test. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve developed solid study habits that will help you feel as prepared as possible.
What is the Best Way to Study Math?
How can you study math well, even if the idea of math makes you nervous?
- Study throughout the course, not just right before the test. Cramming ahead of a test isn’t a good way to learn or remember information. Instead, take time to reflect on every unit up until your exam. Make a study schedule to help you manage your time.
- Reach out when you need help. If you don’t know something, ask, talking to either the professor or, in the case of a StraighterLine course, an academic advisor or online tutor, who can help you with course materials.
- Summarize concepts and procedures in your notes: Word problems can get tricky. Do you understand the underlying concept behind the questions? By writing these in your own words in your notes, you can look past the confusing language of a question and solve the underlying math problem.
- Examine past mistakes: Do you often miss certain questions in practice? Did you get certain problems on a quiz wrong? Work through those to prepare for a test.
- Practice timed problems: If your test is timed, put yourself on the clock when you’re studying. That way you won’t get flustered during an exam.
Math tests don’t need to be scary
Math classes may stress you out. Test taking might not be your thing, but don’t worry — you can do this. As long as you follow best practices when it comes to studying and taking tests, you can be successful in your college math courses. You’ve got this.
Looking to take an online math class? StraighterLine offers math classes in algebra, college algebra, precalculus, calculus, and statistics. Enroll today and start immediately!