For generations, students have searched for methods on how to get better at math. Math can be confusing, and simply attending class every day is often not enough to learn all the concepts taught in school. Fortunately, there are steps that students can take to improve their math skills.
14 Tips How To Get Better at Math
Students who are having trouble understanding math concepts can sometimes feel as if they are alone in their struggles. However, there are thousands of others who are also struggling. Even though you might feel that the ability to understand math is a skill you are born with, the reality is that math is learnable with the right approach. Here are 14 tips on how to get better at math.
1. Review Your Old Notes
The first tip how to get better at math is to review old notes. Math courses typically focus on building skills in a natural progression. New lessons often are a building block added to the foundation the teacher has been constructing throughout the school year. If you are having problems with understanding new math concepts, a great place to turn to for understanding is your old notes.
One of the biggest mistakes that students sometimes make is believing that they can simply move on from a math concept they do not understand well and potentially understand the next one better. That's just not the way how to get better at math. However, this could lead to more confusion. By taking the time to review old notes and mastering the previously learned concepts, you can work on reinforcing your foundation and then building on it.
2. Do Not Skip the Examples
Most math textbooks have pages of examples for each new math concept that is introduced. Students often skip over the examples because they want to rely on the instruction received in class from their teachers. However, working the examples can be helpful.
Taking the time to work the example problems gives you a chance to practice the math concepts before starting on the homework. The answers are provided along with a step-by-step explanation of how to solve the problem that can help reinforce what you have already learned about the concepts.
3. Practice New Concepts
The third tip how to get better at math is to take on new concepts. It might be tempting to only do the assigned homework for your math class, but you need to practice new concepts as much as possible to master them truly. There are several ways you can get in additional practice, but an easy way is to simply do the math problems that were not assigned for your homework.
For instance, if your teacher assigns the even-number problems for your assignment, do the odd-numbered ones for practice. Depending on your math book, the answers to the problems are listed in the back. You can double-check your answers and ensure you are on the right path.
4. Join a Study Group
Even if you like to work alone, joining a study group is important. In a group, you and other students can work together to study math concepts. Each student can contribute to the discussion about the problems and the chances of working through complicated problems successfully increase.
A study group also has other benefits. For instance, if someone in the group is absent, the other students can take notes and share them. They can also explain the new concepts to the absent student so that no one in the group falls behind.
5. Ask Questions
In class, do not shy away from asking questions about math concepts you do not understand. It can be difficult to admit in front of others that you are having trouble, but asking for clarification is necessary if you want to learn.
If you are still apprehensive about asking questions, remember there is a good chance that another student is also having trouble. By taking the initiative to seek help, you could be inadvertently helping others. In addition to this, you can develop a lifelong habit of asking questions, which can help you be successful in other areas.
6. Turn to the Internet
The internet can be used for more than just entertainment. There are countless sites that have resources available to help students learn more about math. Sites such as Khan Academy have free instructional math videos, sample problems, and other content designed to help students succeed.
You can even use the internet to find study buddies. Students from around the world gather on math forums to help each other understand concepts. Membership is usually free, and you can use the site as often as needed.
7. Create Flashcards
Flashcards have proven to be highly successful in helping kids to learn their alphabet, colors, and shapes. They are also beneficial to students trying to improve their math skills. Flashcards are helpful how to get better at math. The cards can help improve memorization of important math facts and give you a chance to make learning fun with your friends.
For instance, flash cards can include terminology and definitions that are learned in math. They can also include formulas and other math concepts. Memorizing formulas can help reduce the time needed to solve math problems and can be useful in and out of the classroom.
8. Tackle Your Math Anxiety
Math anxiety is a real problem that can have a direct impact on how to get better at math. It can include negative self-talk, difficulty remember math facts, and an inability to focus. It is not an uncommon problem, but if you do not deal with your anxiety now, it can worsen.
Tackling your anxiety often starts with changing your perspective. For instance, substituting positive self-talk for negative is a good place to start. You should also take a few deep breaths whenever you feel yourself panicking about math. The more relaxed and comfortable you are when working problems, the better your focus will be.
9. Read Ahead the Day Before Class
Instead of waiting to review new math concepts the next day in class, start reading the next lesson after completing the last one. By reading ahead, the concepts will not seem so unfamiliar when the teacher starts the lesson.
You also have a chance to develop and write down questions that you have about the concepts before class starts. You can then ask your teacher about any questions that were not covered during the lesson. By the end of the lesson, you should have a firm grasp on the material that was introduced.
10. Do Not Rely on Your Calculator
With more teachers allowing calculators in the classroom, it can be easy to become dependent on using one to solve math problems. Although there is nothing wrong with using the calculator, it can make it challenging to truly understand a math problem.
You can continue to use your calculator, but you need to understand how the answer was calculated and what it means. If you cannot, consider putting away the calculator until you fully understand the math concept. Remember, a calculator is not allowed on standardized testing, and future teachers might feel differently about its use. Understanding the concepts now can help save some heartache later.
11. Prioritize Organization
A major obstacle in your path to improving in math is disorganization. If your notes are in disarray and other study materials are not organized, finding the answers you need to improve your math could be hard.
Take the time to organize your notes according to the order in which the math concepts were learned. If necessary, rewrite notes that are difficult to decipher. You also need to ensure that all your study materials are neatly organized in an accessible location. You can even use office supplies, such as stickies and dividers, to better organize your notes and study materials.
12. Get Vocal
When studying math alone, it can sometimes help to vocalize the problems. Instead of quietly working through the problems in your head, say them out loud to yourself. Talk through the problem from beginning to end.
As you talk through the problems and how to solve them, you are reinforcing the concepts to yourself. If talking through the problems to yourself seems strange, ask a parent or friend to allow you to explain your math problems to them. You could even explain it to a pet. On testing days, it will be easier to recall your words and math strategies.
13. Apply Math Concepts to Real Life
Taking math concepts out of the pages of your books and applying them to the real world can help you understand them better. Although it can be challenging to apply more complex concepts to real life, there are some elements of most concepts that you can use.
For instance, you probably have several chances a week to put your ability to determine probability to the test. You can calculate the likelihood of the first number being called in a lottery as being a specific number. You can calculate the probability that you will roll a number while playing a board game with dice. Pay attention, and you will find many other ways to apply math to your life.
14. Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health
Math is easier to understand if your mental and physical health is in good shape. For instance, it is more challenging to concentrate on problems if you have had little sleep.
Make sure you are eating properly, getting enough sleep, and exercising throughout the week. Each of these activities can be instrumental in developing your cognitive skills and can help you become better at math.