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Make a Math Memory Aid

A memory aid is a tool that you can use to remind yourself of important information during a test or final exam. It is usually a piece of paper, and can contain facts, formulas and procedures that you learned in class and that you will use on the test. If you don’t really understand the class material, a memory aid will not be helpful, so make sure you actually understand everything you write on your aid.

The Moral: You need to understand the material in math regardless of the content on your memory aid.


Memory aids are permitted in mathematics exams throughout the year to relieve stress, to serve as reminders, and to enhance true understanding.

Preparation before the exam

  1. While learning the material
    • Memory aids are built over time
    • Keep a folder, section in your binder, or an envelope that contains “Things I think I need in my MA”
    • Create a mind map of your sections (see tools for options)
  2. Sort the concepts you need to understand for the exam
    • Summarize your class notes
    • Organize your ideas using lists, mind maps and explicit connections
    • Ask yourself key questions?
      • Why is this here? think about relevance
      • How are things connected? what are similarities/differences
  3. Sort your facts, formulas and procedures
    • From previous assignments, tests, exams write down everything you are expected to remember
    • Which is the most useful?
    • Find out what you need help remembering by simply trying to remember everything you learned. Then, what was incorrect or missing?

What to Include on Memory Aid?

Now that you know what you don’t know; what are the things you need help remembering?

  • Procedures – list of steps
  • Specific formulas
  • Tables/lists of definitions
  • Examples used to jolt your memory

Follow the Rules

It is very important that you follow your teacher’s instructions when creating your memory aid for classroom tests, failing to do so could result in having your memory aid confiscated prior to the exam.

Important: Your teacher may have guidelines during the year for your tests that are different from the provincial standards.

The following are the guidelines for the provincial June exam.

  • The student prepares memory aid
  • Permitted to use one letter-sized sheet of paper (A4) or (8′ X 11′)
  • Both sides of the sheet may be used
  • Must be handwritten
  • Mechanical reproduction of this memory aid is forbidden
  • The student’s name and the examination code must be indicated on the memory aid

Designing Tips

The best memory aids are simple, readable, and easy to use. If your page is neat and organized, things will be easier to find.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use borders or boxes to divide different sections (make links to sample templates)
  • Write a heading for each section
  • Create a section just for formulas
  • Use arrows to connect related topics
  • Use colour-coding for similar content
  • Use as few words as possible
  • Include images and diagrams to recall information (a picture says a 1000 words)

Remember – You need to include content that you already understand for your memory aid to be useful! That’s why creating your own tool is best…

Practice using Memory Aid

Test driving your memory aid is an essential step.

  • Practice makes perfect
  • Helps you to know where things are on the page
  • Helps to improve your memory aid with only relevant content



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