We have all that moment of embarrassment when our math skills failed us. Perhaps we were trying to calculate the tip or divide a check with friends while going out. Perhaps a teacher called you out in class and your mind froze up on you at that precise second. Well we have all had such moments. The majority of people find math a tricky subject. But as a student you need to master it to progress up the academic ladder. For those students that occasionally find themselves struggling, we gathered 4 easy tips to help you toward mastering the subject and earning higher grades.
Sometimes when you start a new lesson, for example when you began studying Algebra, you don’t quite understand a problem. Often someone will jump to the next page and decide to focus on that lesson instead. Unfortunately, that will only make things worse! You can’t skip a lesson in math you do not fully understand as most of math is cumulative and connected. The second lesson is based on the first or worse the third lesson requires you to carefully combine what you learned in the first and second. You will only become more confused as time goes on and you eventually forget even where to go back to and restart.
Instead, the best thing is to focus completely on the lesson you have to study. It may take time to understand it completely and internalize, but your comprehension will steadily improve as you return to it. If after several reviews it is still not making sense, this is right time to seek someone's help. Perhaps they can simplify the problem or approach it from a different direction. But in the end, you will be ready for the next lesson and all the parts that follow.
Math is all about finding solutions to the problems presented to you. The easiest way to familiarize yourself with problems is to solve a lot of them. Math is a field where repitition is often key to mastery. When you finish studying a unit, make sure you are able to quickly and consistently solve problems. Hopefully you have review materials with the solutions at the back of the book so you can run through a bunch of problems and quickly check your answers. Start with the easy ones even if you think that they are way too easy for your math level. Solving easy problems will give you the confidence boost you need and prepare you for the harder ones that are often similar problems where they have added some extra digits or an additional step to solve. You can utilize online tools to help you out -- you can use calculator bee and many other helpful math websites in additional to old fashioned pencils and paper. When you have solved the same problem many times before, your confidence will be much higher in class. Exams may start to feel like a piece of cake for you.
Jot Them Down
With some problems, especially word problems, you may be tempted to solve them in your head rather than writing them down. Don’t depend on mental math, especially for exams, to get the best grades. Make sure you always write everything down carefully and clearly on a piece of paper. Write all the numbers and the equations you need to solve this problem, then start working on it. By doing that, you're allowing your mind to asses the problem logically. You are not only less apt to make a simple calculation error, but also avoid misinterpreting the instructions. This is particularly common with word problems where phrasing might be tricky. A common reason for lower grades in math are simple errors caused by a student’s haste to solve problems which they have seen before and could normally get the correct answer to you. You always hate losing points on the problems you have correctly solved a hundred times before.
Study Somewhere Quiet
Math is very demanding in terms of concentration and focus, so you should study someplace where it's quiet and peaceful. Some people tend to study with music playing or while watching TV in the background. This is probably a mistake for any subject, but especially true in math. If you're one of those people that might read a problem 4-5 times before you feel you understand it, distractions make it even longer to solve problems and dramatically increase the risk of simple errors. You also want to make sure you don’t study math when it's midnight. The end of the night when you just want to sleep is not the time your mind is ready to focus.
Some students have an instant and unexplainable love for math, which makes them eager students and good at the subject. But for the majority of students, math may not be their first love. For some, it is inevitably just one of their hard-to-deal-with subjects. However, all students should know there are lots of strategies to improve their math skills. Hopefully these quick tips can set them on a path to greater confidence and higher grades.