How to Prepare for the New York State Math Exam

When children take state math exams, a little preparation can go a long way. Be sure you know the test format and which skills will be tested. Keep reading for basic info and preparation tips for the New York State math exam.

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Prep Tips for the New York State Math Exam

Know the Test Format

In New York State, the 2012 math exam for grades 3-8 consists of 3 separate test books with multiple-choice, short-answer and extended-response questions. The total number of questions varies by grade level, but there are usually about 70 test items altogether.

Schools are required to schedule 90 minutes of testing time for each test book, although the state estimates that most books will only take about 60 minutes to finish. Every student in grades 3-8 should be issued a ruler for the test, and 5th and 7th graders will need a protractor. Students in 7th and 8th grades will need to use a scientific calculator. The test format varies slightly from year to year, so it's important to confirm the details of your child's test format.

Know the Test Content

Your children's conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and problem-solving abilities will be assessed in relation to several mathematical areas. These include number and operations, statistics and probability, measurement, geometry and algebraic thinking. At most grade levels, except for 8th grade, number sense and operation questions make up 1/3 to 1/2 of the test. The 8th grade test focuses more intensively on algebra skills. Additionally, the 5th grade test has a strong secondary focus on geometry, and about 1/3 of the questions on the 7th grade test are devoted to probability and statistics.

In addition to directly assessing students' skills in these areas, the test questions may incorporate general mathematical practices like these:

  • Representing problems with objects
  • Using mathematics vocabulary appropriately
  • Asking questions to clarify the thinking of others
  • Organizing mathematical ideas using charts, diagrams and tables

Preparation Strategies

Stay on top of all schoolwork assigned to your children, and communicate with their teacher to find out if they're struggling in any specific areas. Practice math skills daily with your children using flashcards or games, and create a study schedule for them to follow. You may also want to look into tutoring assistance at their school or hire a private tutor to work with them at home. Additionally, the Internet has a wide variety of free mathematical games, study materials and practice tests you can download for your kids.

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