Many students and parents ask for pointers and techniques to best learn Math. Here are 5 tips which apply to any level of Math.
1. Work example problems and check your answers to gain practice with every lesson:
The common phrase, “learn by example” is quite simply the easiest way to learn Math. After reading the section in your textbook, begin working examples from the end of the chapter. Make sure to work the problems that have answers in the back of the book, and check everyone. Always begin with the easiest problem in your book, even if you think it will be too “easy” to solve. It is very very important to build your confidence. Gradually work harder and harder problems from your book and check your answer for each one. After working a dozen or more problems from the section, you are ready to move on to the next section. Many students want to plow through a lesson just to make it to the next one. You cannot just read a section in a Math book and become an expert on that section. You must work problems. If you can’t work problems then you are not ready to move on. The good news is that working problems will build your confidence, and confidence is 100% the name of the game in Math.
2. Find a quiet place to study and do your assignments:
People love to listen to music while studying but it is much more effective if you don’t. Try to find a quiet spot in your home or in the Library to get your schoolwork done and you will get your work done much more quickly because you’ll be able to focus and absorb more.
3. Keep your solutions neat and line-by-line:
Always work problems vertically, with one step on every line. Never work horizontally. It may take more paper, but you will be able to follow your steps much more easily. More importantly, the teacher will be able to follow your work much better which allows him/her to give you partial credit. If there are just 2 steps when there should be 10, you will not be getting any points for your thought process. The steps you write down tell the teacher what you are thinking and how you are attacking the problem.
4. Don’t work problems very late at night:
Trying to do Calculus or Physics late at night, after 12 or 1 am, is you doing yourself a disservice. Also, when working problems at night mistakes can be made because of the low energy levels of the brain at that time. It is advised to work maths problems earlier in the day.
5. If you don’t understand something, focus on mastering that topic before moving on to the next topic:
It sounds simple, but it is absolutely essential. Let’s say a student is learning Algebra, for example. Further, let’s say he or she is having a hard time understanding how to add and subtract negative and positive numbers. All of us struggle with this in the beginning as it is a sticky point for most students. Some students in this situation, out of frustration that they “can’t” learn this topic, will move on to the next lesson in the hope that they will be able to understand that one.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Math is very much like learning to read. If you don’t know your letter sounds then you have no hope of being able to sound out words, of course, there is no way possible that you could read a book. All math courses are taught in a specific sequence because every topic builds on the previous topic. If you are having a problem with a topic, continue working with that one until you understand it and can work problems successfully. Attend tutoring, read the book and examples a second time, or even get a totally different book to have it explained a different way but whatever you do not turn the page and tackle the next topic. If you do, you will get even more frustrated and you in all likelihood will begin to give up hope.