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Sarah Bradstreet

GED Study Guide: Math-Focused

The GED Math test is approaching. You’ve studied and taken every practice test available. You’ve mastered the material, now it’s time to master the exam. This GED study guide has some great math strategies that can help you do your best and keep your cool on test day.

Backsolving

Solving an equation by isolating a variable can be time-consuming. If you make a mistake and don’t see your solution among the answer choices, you will waste more time reworking the problem (as well as stressing over your mistakes). To avoid all the complications that come with actually doing the algebra on a math test, often it is quicker and easier to backsolve.

Backsolving is plugging the answer choices into the equation. This works for questions that have numbers as the answer choices (not variables). If you are solving for x, then you can substitute each value provided in the answer choices for x in the equation. The answer choice that makes the equation true is the correct response.

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Example:
Find the value of x in the following equation:
2x-11=7x+4

A) -1
B) -2
C) -3
D) -4

 
Answer choices are usually presented in ascending order, so a good strategy it so begin with B or C, and work your way out to A and D.
So, start with B. Substitute -2 for x in the equation:
2x-11=7x+4
2(-2)-11=7(-2)+4
-4-11=-14+4
-15=-10
That’s not true, so you can eliminate B.

Now try C. Substitute -3 for x in the equation:
2x-11=7x+4
2(-3)-11=7(-3)+4
-6-11=-21+4
-17=-17
Success! This equation is true. So, you know that C is the correct answer.

Estimation

Estimation is the art of rounding values to figures you can calculate mentally. Estimating allows you to see which answer choices are unreasonable, thereby eliminating possibilities. Reducing the number of possible answers increases your odds of choosing correctly. If you’re lucky, you can eliminate all of the answer choices except for the correct one.

Example:
A man-made pond is in the shape of a perfect circle. The diameter of the pond is 19.75 feet. What is the circumference of the pond, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a foot?

A) 62.02 feet
B) 124.03
C) 306.20 feet
D) 1,224.80 feet

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To find the circumference of a circle, you can use the equation C=πd, where d is the diameter of the circle. Round 19.75 to 20, and round π to 3, and you can estimate that the circumference of the pond is about 60 feet. The only answer choice close to this is A, so you can eliminate all the other choices.

Calculator Use

You are allowed to use a calculator for the second portion of the GED math exam. Make sure you are familiar with how to use a scientific calculator before taking the test. You don’t want to waste time learning how to use the calculator when you should be focused on calculating answers.

The onscreen calculator the GED offers is a TI-30XS, and you can take a tutorial to learn about all of its available functions. Practice using this calculator when studying and taking practice exams for the exam. You can also bring your own hand-held calculator if you want, but it MUST be this model (TI-30XS). No other calculators are allowed.

During the test, don’t overly rely on the calculator. It is easy to think of it as a crutch or security blanket, but it should be neither. You need to know how to make calculations without it; the calculator is not a substitute for preparing and studying. You also need the confidence to make a quick computation and move on. Don’t waste time keying in calculations you can do mentally. Have faith that you know what you’re doing without needing the calculator to prove it.

It is much easier to accidentally hit a wrong key on a calculator than it is to write an incorrect number on a piece of paper. It’s therefore best to use mental math or pencil and paper when you can do so quickly. Save the calculator for calculations that are too complicated to compute mentally, or those which take a long time to work out using pencil and paper, such as long division, square roots, or multiplication involving numbers or decimals with many digits.

Pacing

You have 115 minutes to complete approximately 46 questions on the GED math exam. If you pace yourself evenly, that’s 2.5 minutes per question; however, you need to keep a few things in mind before trying to keep up this pace:

Section 1

The first section has 5 questions. That means you should spend 12.5 minutes on this section. This section tests your skills in arithmetic and operations, and does NOT allow you to use a calculator. Stick to 2.5 minutes per question as an average. You may be able to quickly complete some questions mentally. Others you may need to spend more time on. Complete the easy questions first, then recalculate how much time you have left for the remaining questions.

Once you complete the first section, you cannot return to it, and so it may be difficult for you to leave it behind. Be confident! Try to leave yourself a minute to check your answers, but try your best to stick to spending only 12.5 minutes on this section.

Section 2

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The second section has 41 questions. If you spent more or less time on the first section, recalculate how much time you have per question on this section. Divide the number of minutes left by 41, which is the number of questions in this section.

Skim through section 2 and complete the easy questions first. Then, recalculate how much time you have per each question remaining on the test.
Consider multiplying your per-question time limit by 5. This will give you the amount of time you have per every 5 questions, allowing you to spend more time on some questions and less on others while still keeping pace.For example, if you have 2.5 minutes per question, that means you have 12.5 minutes for every group of 5 questions.

Save time for review and brain breaks. After completing a group of 5 questions, check your work and take a quick break. Check your work quickly, but don’t second-guess yourself. Take a break by tightening and relaxing all the muscles in your body. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Be confident and you are more likely to succeed.

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About Sarah Bradstreet

Sarah is an educator and writer with a Master’s degree in education from Syracuse University who has helped students succeed on standardized tests since 2008. She loves reading, theater, and chasing around her two kids.


One Response to “GED Study Guide: Math-Focused”

  1. Isaiah says:

    i wanted to say thank you because this actually helps a bunch with what I should be doing on the test

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