So you’ve worked hard all year and finally, the chance has come to show off your newly gained mathematical genius! Right? Ummm, well… chances are you’re feeling pretty nervous.

Never fear though, we at EdPlace have compiled a top list of tips to help you breeze through those pesky SATs maths tests.

Top tips for mastering maths exams.

So here we go, hold on tight for some sound and very sensible tips to help you through the tests ahead;

Read the question carefully. Sounds so simple it's almost silly, yet countless marks have been lost by students who rush through without actually understanding what is being asked. Underline the important words. Work out what it is exactly you're being asked to do. If you need to sketch out the scenario, in order to properly picture the problem in your head, do it!

Show off!! It’s no good working out complex questions entirely in your head. Show your workings, even if you are not using the most conventional methods (because you may have accidentally forgotten your 8x tables in this moment of stress), show each step and how you got there. Not only may this gain you extra marks, but if you potentially come to a completely unrealistic answer, you can track back to see where the error may have occurred.

Check your answer. After all that working out, don’t move straight on, go back to the question and check that your answer makes sense to the scenario given. Lots of students get their zeros mixed up and make their answers way too big or too small, especially with long multiplication or division.

If the question shows you a selection of mixed fractions, decimals and percentages or mixed times (mins, hrs, 24hr clock), mixed weights (kg, g) or mixed lengths (metres, cm, and kilometres). Make sure you convert each option into the same measure before you answer the question.

Cross items off. When you are asked to order items from smallest to largest, cross them off as you order them, this way you can’t accidentally miss one or put down the same answer twice.

If you are counting the sides of shapes or perimeters, put a starting dot or line to show where you started.

Find the simplest way to solve the problem, for example, 20 x 3 x 4 is the same as 20 x 12 or 60 x 4.

Spot the inverse question. Sometimes you have to do a calculation backwards in order to get the answer. It can be useful to write out the calculation you are doing a bit like this; A + B = C, therefore, C – A = B or C – B = A. Remember the inverse of add is; subtract and the inverse of multiply is; divide.

Draw lines or shade boxes to help you to see things. Don’t be afraid to draw on the exam paper.

Make sure that all the numbers have the same number of decimal places. Add noughts at the end of decimals if it helps you to add them up or order them. This can prevent silly mistakes.

Use a number line to help work out time

If asked to give coins as part of an answer, make sure the coins you give actually exist.

With graph or data questions, fill in missing amounts along the x and y-axis. Is the scale in 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s or bigger? Draw straight lines across each bar chart to make sure you are reading the right part of the scale.

Fill in missing numbers on a scale before answering the question.

Check the key given with some data questions.

Turn the question paper around on your desk if it helps you to see more clearly. Some questions trick you by rotating diagrams.

Finally and it seems obvious, but look at how many marks each question will give you. If it seems too easy, look more carefully. Check you have read the question correctly.


Don’t forget, you can also use EdPlace’s worksheets, assessments and revision materials to help get you exam-ready!


We wish you the best of luck in your exams - you got this!


How to master maths exams