Any student entering public high school in Florida will take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests to demonstrate how well she has absorbed the material covered between third and eighth grade, typically during spring of the eighth-grade year. The test can affect a student's high school placements, and directly affects the school's assessment and ranking. The FCAT Math test focuses on geometry and algebra, but will touch on all other aspects of earlier Florida math curriculum.
Number Sense and Concepts
Students strong on basic number sense and mathematical concepts will do better on the FCAT Math exam than those who are not. You can improve your performance by improving your memorized multiplication and division tables up through 12, and by understanding percentage, mean, median, mode and basic probability in context. A sample question on the exam might ask you to choose the median of seven responses from a list of five options.
Measurement and Geometry Questions
Geometry is one of the two focal points of the ninth-grade FCAT Math exam. The exam comes with a formula sheet so you don't have to spend time memorizing geometric equations such as the Pythagorean theorem or using pi to calculate the area of a circle. However, you should be able to define and identify different two- and three-dimensional polygons, and know which formula belongs to each. A typical question might ask you to calculate the height of a cylinder, given the volume and diameter.
Algebra is the second focal point of the exam, both on its own and integrated into geometry and number sense questions. Algebra questions on the exam will cover basic equations and inequalities, and how to represent them on a graph or number line. A representative question will ask you to identify the slope of a line based on a given equation.
How to Prepare
In addition to basic test-taking skills such as getting enough sleep, eating a good breakfast and eliminating obviously wrong answers on challenging problems, one specific practice can help you prepare for the FCAT Math exam. Since the exam is administered on a computer, use online resources to practice taking the test on a computer instead of doing all your studying with pencil and paper. You can find a variety of sample questions, and online practice tests, from student resources on the Web.