Nine tips for (math) exam success

Time flies when you’re doing math…

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, mostly because life got a little crazy, but also because, as a math teacher, writing doesn’t come naturally to me. But with exams on the horizon for secondary students, I thought I’d chime in and give some study advice (although I’m thinking specifically about math, I’m sure these tips are applicable to all subjects).

So without further ado, here are my top nine exam study tips for students (but parents can read this too, and you’re welcome to pass it on to your son/daughter as your advice. I encourage it!)

1. Do the assigned review.

Teachers won’t assign exam review if they don’t think it will be useful. Think about it. The person who has written the exam has just gone through either the textbook or put together a collection of questions he/she feels will help you. They probably have some insight into what to expect on the exam! It’s a no-brainer!

study2. Look at this year’s past tests.

These are gold. These are assessment tools that your teacher has put together to check your learning on individual curriculum requirements. That means these questions are very likely the questions the teacher feels BEST check for understanding of the course. Cover up the answers and try the questions again. My bet is that you see some variations of these questions on your final. If they are such good indicators of student achievement during the year, why wouldn’t they still be at the final?

3. Start from the start.

It doesn’t make sense to start your exam review on the unit that you just finished. This should be fresh in your mind. Instead, go back to that first unit and review from the beginning of the year and make your way through the year chronologically. You’ll find that the material will begin to come back to you, and you’ll start to put more things together. Continue reading “Nine tips for (math) exam success”

A day in the life of a high school math teacher

So, what’s a day-in-the-life of a math teacher, you ask? If you were to guess that it includes Facebook status updates, spiking volleyballs and playing video games, then you’re absolutely right.

Before your head explodes, let me explain. I’m a hockey fan, so I’ll give you a play-by-play of a typical day as a math teacher and volleyball coach. Continue reading “A day in the life of a high school math teacher”

Matt Damon, Oprah and their role in a math teacher’s life

Picture this: I’m at an event and meet two people for the first time. Eventually, the conversation turns to career talk, and that’s when I tell them what I do for a living: I teach math.

I’m met with one of two reactions:

  1. They say something witty about how they loved/hated math in high school, and that they’ve haven’t used it once in a real-life scenario; or
  2. Their face drops and they reply with one, simple word: “why?”

quoteIf they discuss their love or hate of math, I’m happy to agree with them! They are absolutely right. Often, you either “get” math or have challenges with it. In most careers, chances are you won’t come across a denominator that needs rationalizing in order to meet a deadline for a boss. If they are persistent about math not being applicable outside of high school, I explain that it’s not specific mathematical skills that help post-secondary; rather, the problem-solving methods that we give students enables them to be successful at a multitude of tasks later in life. Continue reading “Matt Damon, Oprah and their role in a math teacher’s life”