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Math Success

Math Study Skills

In the Classroom

To be successful in anything, its imperative to have a strong interest in what you want to be successful in. With Mathematics, this same principle applies. Even if Math is not the most interesting subject for some, graduating from school/college is the ultimate goal. Therefore, the advice is "you have to fake it to make it". It's true. If you absolutely hate Math, it is time to change that attitude and make yourself like it. It works, believe me!

Basically, it is a matter of applying yourself with drive and determination. It takes an active attitude to succeed.

  • Attend every class. While in class, take well-organized notes that are clear and understandable. If you are lost on one topic, always ask your teacher.
  • Development a good relationship with your teacher. If they do not have time to answer questions in class, go see them at their office. Make sure that your teacher knows you name and who you are.
  • Don't be a passive student in class. Participate and do homework, projects, etc. in a timely manner. Never make excuses for poorly done or late work.
  • It's a great idea to time manage. 15 minutes before class, take a look at that day's lesson or try to look ahead so that you are already familiar with the new topics that are going to be introduced that day.

Studying Math

Math is different from other subjects in that you have to do problems. While some math topics may include theory, really the work lies in calculations.

  • The trick with math is repetition. You must actively do the problems. The problems help you learn and memorize the formulas and techniques you need to know to pass the class!
  • Give yourself enough time to do the assigned homework. This means not doing homework on the bus or 5 minutes before class begins. Set aside an appropriate amount of time to do the homework in a calm and stress free environment.
  • Remember that with Math, each lesson builds on the previous one. If you miss one class, you will fall behind. So try your best to go to each and every class.

Study Time

The dreaded but true rule of almost all subjects is that you should study two hours for every hour of class. This is true for Math and in fact, sometimes more time is needed.

  • The more challenging the material, the more time you need to complete the homework and study properly. Math can be tricky in that one day you may understand the material, but as soon as you try to do it on your own, you discover that it is more complicated. Therefore, don't take for granted if you feel confident with the material. You should take your time with the problems and carefully check your work.
  • Form a study group. Meet at least once or twice a week, but make sure that your group is serious about doing well in Math. It shouldn't be a social group, but a serious group of classmates who want to help each other.
  • Study time should be organized and strict. It is imperative to find a quiet place with no distractions. Turn off the computer, the cell phone, the tv and preferably, no music. Find a good desk and a supportive chair and hunker down to study!
  • Do take breaks. Your mind needs a rest every so often - 15 minutes for every 1 hour of study time. Take a moment to stretch your legs, get a healthy snack, and take a breather!

Problem Solving

Math is a building block type of course. The classes build upon one another and what might seem simple at first may turn into a complex and frustrating problems further down the road. Therefore, it is important to develop problem solving skills early on in order to tackle increasingly difficult calculations.

  • The core function of math is based on solving problems. But the concepts and skills needed to solve math problems can be the same skills needed for everyday life problems. One pound of bananas costs $2.50, but I only want three bananas? What is the cost of 3 bananas? This type of calculation is an everyday issue and it helps to turn all math calculations into real world situations. Invent calculations for yourself and get your mind used to thinking like a mathematician!
  • The key to memorization can be "drills". This is where you find repetition works really well. Repeat formulas over and over again out loud. Make flash cards and carry them with you everywhere so you can quiz yourself.
  • Try these four steps in developing problem solving skills:
  1. Understand - Understand the problem before you start to solve it. Read and re-read the problem carefully to find all the information and data you need.
  2. Plan - Once you understand the question, its time to organize your answer process. Identify what calculations you need to do the problem. Outline on a scratch sheet of paper what you are going to do before you begin.
  3. Try it - After planning you attack...attack it! Try it and see if the answer is correct.
  4. Review- Once you have found an answer, go back to the problem and see if you've really answered the question without overlooking something important. Remember that most math problems require that you not only have the correct answer, but you must show your work.

Studying for a Math Test

The best thing you can do to prepare for a test is everyday study. "Cramming" will be your biggest stressor and your worst enemy!

  • Start studying early. Start several weeks before the test in order to give yourself enough time to review and review and review some more for the test.
  • DO THE HOMEWORK! The homework assigned by the teacher is truly the best study aide you can use. If you constantly do the homework and do it well, you are already one step ahead of the game.
  • To review, categorize your homework with you notes by chapters. Take the time to glance over the chapters in the book, your notes, and the homework. On a separate sheet of paper, make notes about what you do and don't understand. If you have questions about anything, ask your teacher for help or suggestions.
  • Do the homework again. If one section is particularly difficult for you, ask your teacher for some extra worksheets or exercises so you can practice on new problems.
  • One of the best ways to memorize things is to say it out loud. Try giving a presentation explaining how to do the calculations. Imagine that you are trying to teach a class on that topic. What is the best way to teach it to someone else?
  • Get a lot of rest the night before the exam. Wake up early and get to class early. The mind needs to be rested and focused on the exam. So don't oversleep so you have to rush to class frazzled.

Taking a Math Test

Once you have studied for the exam it is important to strategize how you are going to take the exam.

  • Once you arrive rested and prepared, take a moment to clear your mind, take some deep breaths, prepare your materials, and concentrate on the test. Don't let outside factors like stress, worries, or fear take over your focus.
  • When you get the exam, look over the entire test. Then identify what sections are the easiest for you and what will take more time. Try to break down a estimated time for each section. Some people like to do the easiest sections first and the hardest for last. It is said that you should do the easiest first so that you don't lose points on those guaranteed correct answers if you run out of time. But this is a personal decision...do the test in the order that suits you!
  • READ EACH QUESTION CAREFULLY!
  • Time counts. Work continuously and quickly. Don't lose a lot of time on one problem at the beginning. Leave it undone and move on to the next question if you get stuck. Hopefully, you will have time to go back and finish it, but don't let it affect your confidence.
  • Show all your work. Make it as easy as possible for your teacher to see what you have done and how you have done it. Even if you don't get the correct answer, your teacher can give you partial credit for the work you show.
  • Don't erase your errors. Erasing is a waste of time and you may erase something necessary later on. To be on the safe side, just put a line through it and move on.
  • Outline your strategy first when you have a multiple-step problem.
  • Verify your answers. Look at each question and look at each answer. Does the answer make sense?
  • If you finish early, go back to the beginning and check your answers. Take a look over the test with a critical eye. But actively check your answers. You can always improve something.

Math Resources