What Skills Do I Need for the GED Math Test? - dummies

What Skills Do I Need for the GED Math Test?

By Murray Shukyn, Dale E. Shuttleworth, Achim K. Krull

To do well on the GED Math test, you need to have a general understanding of numbers, their relationships to one another, measurements, geometry, data analysis and statistics, probability, patterns, functions, and algebra. In essence, to be successful on this test, you need to have the mathematical knowledge base that most high-school graduates have, and you need to know how to apply it to solve real-life problems.

The GED Math test provides a formula sheet for you to use during the test. Keep in mind that you may not need all the formulas provided, and you may not need a formula for every question. Part of the fun of math is knowing which formula to use for which problems and figuring out when you don’t need one at all.

The Math test assesses the following four areas.

  • Number operations and number sense: Surprise, surprise — these problems deal with numbers. Here’s a breakdown of the two topics in this category:

    • Number operations are the familiar actions you take in math problems and equations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You probably mastered these operations in grade school; now all you have to do is practice them.

    • Number sense is the ability to understand numbers. You’re expected to be able to recognize numbers (not a difficult task), know their relative values (that 5 is larger than 3, for example), and know how to use them (number operations). In addition, number sense includes the ability to estimate (or approximate) the result of number operations — which is always a handy skill on a timed test.

  • Measurement and geometry: Here, you get a chance to play with mathematical shapes and manipulate them in your head. You get to use the Pythagorean relationship (or theorem) to do all sorts of interesting calculations, and you get to use measurements to do things like find the volume of ice cream in a cone or the amount of paint you need to cover a wall.

    If you relax, you can have fun with these questions and then maybe even use a lot of the knowledge in real life. This category breaks down into two topics:

    • Measurement involves area, volume, time, and the distance from here to there. Measurement of time is a good thing to know when taking any test because you want to make sure you run out of questions before you run out of time!

    • Geometry is the part of mathematics that deals with measurement. It also deals with relationships and properties of points, lines, angles, and planes. This branch of math requires you to draw, use, and understand diagrams.

  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability: If you pay attention and practice the concepts in this category, you’ll be able to think more clearly about the next political poll that shows that every representative of the party sponsoring the poll is good and all others are evil. This category breaks down into the following types:

    • Data analysis allows you to analyze data. You probably already practice this skill without realizing it. When you read about stock performance or lack of performance, calculate or read about baseball statistics, or figure out how many miles per gallon your car gets, you’re doing data analysis.

    • Statistics and probability are part of data analysis. Statistics is the interpretation of collections of random numbers and can be used to prove one thing or another; probability tells you how often an event is likely to happen.

  • Algebra, functions, and patterns: You most likely use these concepts in everyday life, although you may not know that you do. Here’s a breakdown of the three types in this category:

    • Algebra is a form of mathematics used to solve problems by using letters to represent unknown numbers, creating equations from the information given, and solving for the unknown numbers — thus, turning them into known numbers. If you ever said something like, “How much more does the $10 scarf cost than the $7.50 one?” you were really solving this equation: $7.50 + x = $10.00.

    • Functions are part of mathematics. They involve the concept that one number can be determined by its relationship with another. A dozen always consists of 12 units, for example. If you were buying two dozen eggs, you’d be buying 12 × 2 = 24 eggs.

    • Patterns are the predictable repeat of a situation. If someone told you the first four numbers in a pattern were 1, 2, 3, 4 and asked you what the next number was, you’d say “5” pretty fast. This simple pattern involves adding 1 to each number to get the next one. Most patterns are complicated, but, with some focus, you can figure out how to solve them.