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Center for Mathematics Readiness
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Math Placement Test Tips


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Test Preparation Tips

Now that you know what you need to prepare, make sure you study wisely to improve your performance on the mathematics placement test. Here are some tips.

Make time to prepare weeks before the test:Time Management

  • Time management: Schedule your studying over a few days or a week.
  • Study aids and techniques 
    • Put the main ideas/information/formulas onto a sheet that can be quickly reviewed many times, this makes it easier to retain the key concepts that will be on the test.
    • If you are taking a computerized test, familiarize yourself with this particular test.  Know how to use the built in calculator, if one is available.  Find an online practice test and take it. Review Testing Center rules in advance!
  • Stress and anxiety management.
    • Exercising for a few days before the test will help reduce stress.
    • Try to maintain a positive attitude while preparing for the test. Replace thoughts such as “I am terrible at math.” with “I will do well on this on this math test.”
  • Work on practice problems for each topic ranging in various levels of difficulty.
  • When practicing, try to solve the problem on your own first then look at the answer or seek help if you are having trouble.
  • Mix up the order of the questions from various topics when you are reviewing so you'll learn when to use a specific method/formula.



Night before test:

Get enough sleep the night before.

Don't try to pull an all-nighter.




Leaving for the testing area: 

Pack calculator, formula sheet, extra batteries, #2 pencils, eraser, and anything else you need to review for the test.


Before taking the test:

  • Eat before the test.
  • Plan to arrive early for the exam.
  • Go to the restroom before walking into the testing room.
  • When you arrive at the testing area turn off your cell phone  or put it on silent mode.

While taking the test:

  • Read the directions carefully.
  • For paper and pencil test, do a memory dump at the very beginning of the test.  Write down, on an unused area of the test, formulas that you have memorized for the test. You can reference the formulas later and not worry about recalling them later.
  • For computerized test:
    • Remember COMPASS and Accuplacer tests are computer-adaptive.  You must answer all questions, so make sure you carefully review your answers because you will not be able to go back and change your answer.
    • THEA-IBT tests are not computer adaptive.  It is only an internet version of the pencil and paper version of the THEA.  You may answer the test questions in any order, flag questions for later review, and change your answers as needed.
  • Read the entire question and look for keywords.  For example, when solving problems, don’t just solve for the variable, x. Make sure you answer the question.
  • If you start to feel nervous, take a few deep breaths to relax.
  • Don't rush, but pace yourself.

 Taking the test

Last Updated: 07-18-2012