Ten Ways to Make Your Numeracy Test Easier - dummies

Ten Ways to Make Your Numeracy Test Easier

By Colin Beveridge

Almost nobody likes to take numeracy tests. They’re stressful situations in which you can feel like your entire career is on the line – and it all comes down to whether you can jump through the hoops set for you.

However, you can take steps to prepare yourself thoroughly to reduce the stress and tackle your exam with confidence. All you need to do is know what you’re up against and have a plan for dealing with it.

Know your enemy

The best way to stop exams from intimidating you is to get familiar with what the papers look like, what kinds of questions they ask and how your particular test tends to word them.

The more knowledge you have of what’s ahead, the easier you’ll find it.

Practice the hard parts

Inspiration can happen at any time, often when you’re not directly working on maths. It’s as if some invisible elves show up, whisper a clear explanation and it all makes sense.

The thing is, this kind of inspiration only comes when you’ve been working on something difficult and haven’t come up with an answer. If you make a habit of spending a few minutes of each study session looking at something you don’t quite get, you make it much more likely that the inspiration elves will pay you a visit.

Practice the easy parts

Make sure you practise the things you already know. Do this at the start of a study session, like a warm-up, to give you a chance to ease in gently and give you a nice confidence boost as well! A good way to practise the easy parts is to make and work through flash cards.

Keep your energy up

Maths is hard enough when you’re feeling 100 per cent. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be by being the all-nighter zombie who falls asleep as soon as your head hits the desk. When you’re studying, and particularly in the exam, you want to make sure you’re comfortable and well rested.

  • Sleep well.

  • Eat properly.

  • Dress appropriately.

Accentuate the positive

Give yourself a good inner reputation to live up to and you’ll find it much easier to motivate yourself to study – and to feel confident when you’re sitting the paper.

Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes or don’t understand something. You’re not stupid. You’re smart and your hard work is going to pay off!

Use the last few minutes

Most people spend the last few minutes before an exam biting their nails and worrying about whether they’ve done enough revision. Instead of worrying, talk yourself up, try to relax, or even jump up and down to burn off that nervous energy.

Have a ritual

Having some sort of ritual that you go through at the start of an exam can really take some of the worry away.

For example, you might decide that when you sit down, the first thing you’ll do is stretch out your arms, take a deep breath and quietly recite your seven times table. The choice is yours – pick something that helps get you in the frame of mind to ace the exam.

Read the paper first

If you possibly can, take a few minutes at the start of the exam to flick through the questions to get an idea of what’s coming up.

Take particular note if you think any questions might be a struggle – this gives your brain a chance to work on them in the background while you’re focussed on other problems.

It also stops you from worrying about what might come up later in the paper – if you’ve skimmed through and not seen any monsters, you know you’re on track; and if there are monsters, you’re prepared for them!

Manage your time

It’s very easy to lose track of time in an exam, especially if you have a question you’re sure you can do but is taking forever. That’s dangerous, because time is the one thing you don’t have very much of in a numeracy test.

You need to know how long you have to spend on each question – depending on the exam, it’s usually about a minute. Once you know that, you can keep track of how you’re doing – if you’re running behind, it’s time to pick up the pace a bit.

Check your work and put it right

Everyone makes mistakes under pressure. If you have a little (or a lot of) time left at the end of the exam, you can use it to go back and see if you have any glaring errors.

Find any answers you’re not confident about and see if you can decide whether they’re correct. If they’re not, see if you can come up with a better answer.

Giving your work even a cursory check can save you a few marks – which may be the difference between getting the job and not!