Math Study Skills – Review for Test (AMATYC)

December 7, 2010 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

Today’s study skill blog is another spin-off of an idea that was discussed in my AMATYC workshop. It came from a group of participants that did not list the college where they teach. (If you are reading this, drop me a line and I’ll add your colleges.) I think this is a great way to help students to review for exams (and maybe learn how to create practice tests of their own), as well as showing that the textbook can be a valuable resource.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. In the left column, type up examples from the textbook. The problems should be diverse, as well as completely covering the material that is to be tested. This column represents the review.
  2. In the right column, type the page number and example number where the problem is worked out completely in the book. This column represents the answer key to the review. 

After students work through the review problems, they check their answers in the textbook. For problems they got wrong, students can look over the complete solution to see where they went wrong.

The instructor who wrote up this activity only uses this as an optional assignment, and it works quite well with students who know that they need to review to prepare for an exam. One big advantage is that students do not run into the problem of not being able to solve a problem on the night before an exam and not knowing where to turn.

My Spin

I would use this approach to try to help students write their own practice tests as the semester goes along. I’d give one or two reviews completely done, then have students write their own using examples in the book. After that I’d try to get them to write another one using odd-numbered textbook exercises. Being able to write your own practice test is a very valuable skill for success in college.

One other thing I would like to add is that for students who get a problem incorrect I would recommend that they try the “Quick Check” exercise that follows the example in the textbook to see if they have learned from their mistake. (In my book they are called Quick Check exercises, but in other texts they are called “Your Turn”, “You Try It”, etc.)


First, students get an outstanding review for the exam with a built-in complete solutions manual. Second, this strategy can be used to help students learn how to write their own practice tests.


Do you have any innovative activities that you use to help students review for an exam? Please share by leaving a comment, or reaching me through the contact page at my web site –


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Tuesday I post an article related to Math Study Skills on my blog. If there’s a particular study skill you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


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