Studying math for formal exams can be quite frustrating for most students. Students often get tensed and stressed during the final days of preparation and end up pulling all-nighters right when they need a proper amount of sleep. Over the long term, all these factors accumulate and induce a fear of math among students. 

But is math really that bad? Is it something to be feared? Definitely not! Any student can alleviate their fear of math by attempting to learn the subject more systematically. And systematic learning will boost your confidence, which in turn will help you ace your formal exams. Here are some effective tips and tricks that will help you study for your formal exams:

Tips to Study Math for Formal Exams

Be Attentive in Class and Get Your Doubts Cleared Instantly

Learning starts in your classroom. Always pay attention to what is being discussed in your classroom. If you’re listening to the class, naturally, you will have some questions in your mind. Get your doubts about a topic cleared instantly, and pay attention to the questions asked by other students as well. Learning math concepts promptly will give you a headstart for your formal exam preparation.

If you skip this step, you might not get a good chance to get your doubts cleared, which means you might not get a chance to dive deeper into the concepts.

Revise the Learned Concepts Every Day to Stay on Track

Keep aside a couple of hours every day to revise the concepts you learned in school. By revising concepts every day, you are essentially “polishing” your memory. This ensures that you don’t forget anything going forward. 

In math, new concepts are often based on the concepts that you have already learned. So, if you are not clear with what you have just learned, it might affect your understanding of the concepts that you will learn later on. 

Make use of these hours to try out some extra questions that you find difficult. Take it up as a challenge. In case you are not able to figure it out, you can always reach out to your tutor the next day.

learning with blocks
Learning new math concepts like a pro!

Be Thorough With the Derivations and Proofs

For most students, learning the derivations of math formulas and the proofs of theorems are a few of the most daunting tasks they face while preparing for math exams. It seems daunting only when students try to memorize these derivations and proofs. This can be made easy by simply analyzing what’s going on in these derivations and proofs. 

It is essential to understand the concept behind a derivation or a theorem because you are going to apply these concepts while solving questions in a formal exam. A student who is not thorough with the concept will find it difficult to solve tricky or indirect questions.

Make a List of Formulas Categorized by Concepts

You might feel a little overwhelmed with all those formulas while learning math. But that’s alright. Students usually find it difficult to memorize the formulas. By the time you reach the 10th formula, you might get confused about whether to use length or width in an equation. And we don’t want that confusion!

To avoid this confusion, go back to step 3—understand the derivation. Once you have a good idea of the concept behind each formula, list down all the formulas you need for the test. While listing them down, it would be helpful to group similar or related formulas together so that your mind registers these formulas easily.

Solve Past Paper Questions and Stick to the Time Limit 

Since the concepts you learn in math today have been a part of the curriculum for a long time, it is quite easy to figure out the type of questions that appeared on the past papers of a specific exam. You just need to do a little bit of time travel and refer to the past papers’ questions. In some cases, you will be able to see the same questions across papers from different years with a little bit of paraphrasing and some changes in numerical values. By the time you go through three or four versions of past papers, you will have a good idea of the type of questions you can expect. 

Math exams don’t just test your understanding of math concepts. They test your time-management skills as well. The easiest way to develop this skill is to solve previous years’ questions while sticking to the time limits specified in the past papers with questions.

Get Proper Sleep and Eat Healthy Food

Last but not least, proper sleep and a healthy diet are essential for the functioning of the brain. Lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet will cause constant drowsiness, which makes it difficult for us to concentrate on studying. You wouldn’t want your brain to let you down on the day of your math exam, right? So, you should treat your body with care on the days before the exam. If you follow the previous five steps, you won’t find any reason to pull all-nighters right before the exam. And that’s definitely possible!


  1. Tutoring and Testing Center MATHEMATICS STUDY SKILLS GUIDE Strategies for Success in Mathematics. (n.d.). 
  1. Math Strategies & Study Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2022, from 

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