As a wide-eyed student trying to apply for a slot in a good high school, I tended to struggle through the mathematics portions of entrance exams. Looking back, I think I would’ve appreciated some advanced warning regarding the test coverage.
The good news is that this help is now available to you. Think of the guidelines below as ideas on what you can expect during science high school entrance tests and some tips on how you can do well on the exam.
Half the Battle
Math may be a very broad field in itself, but certain sub-branches of it have a tendency to pop up during science high school entrance exams. Some of the most common math-related questions you can look forward to include items on arithmetic, basic algebra, geometry and even numerical reasoning.
The interesting thing to note is that not all questions will have you solving for numerical answers. Some of them will simply test your stock knowledge of mathematical principles. For example, you may be asked what a counting number or a greatest common denominator is.
To add a little variety to the mix, the test may include such visual aids as sets, pie charts, graphs and other forms of diagrams for you to study. For instance, you may be given some meter readings and asked to solve for the total amount of kilowatts used.
Of course, no math test is ever complete without the classic word problems. They may involve any of the branches of math that I’ve mentioned above, but their overall purpose is to present a scenario and then ask you to solve for such and such amount.
For example, there’s the classic case of four people of varying ages, and you will be asked to determine who the youngest one is based on the given facts. You may also be given the scenario of a farm with a certain number of animals and asked to count the total number of legs.
Tips and Strategies
Now that you know what to look forward to, you can plan your exam attack strategy. Here are a few tricks I learned during my time in the school of hard knocks: First of all, pray. Anything that keeps the anxiety at bay and helps keep your head clear is extremely important.
Next, quickly scan through the test and tackle the ones that look easiest to you—things that you can answer with little to no computation involved. Going for the more manageable questions first will help build up your self-confidence for the more difficult questions later.
Save the items that require lengthier computation and thinking for last. Always review your work and recheck your computations—the most minor miscalculation can lead to the greatest of errors.
Finally, if you really don’t know the answer, eliminate all the clearly incorrect answers from the choices provided and take your best educated guess.
Been There, Done That
The truth is that the math exam won’t cover anything you haven’t already been exposed to before, so don’t worry about heavy stuff like calculus appearing in there. If you’ve been paying attention in your grade school classes and you’ve been reviewing your lessons diligently, acing the math portion of the exam won’t be as hard as you may think.