Math is almost every student’s nightmare. We’re pretty sure it tops the list of Most Hated Subjects and Most Difficult Subject. When you ask them what it is about math that is so groan-inducing, you will get many different answers, such as:
- “The formula is too complex!”
- “It’s really difficult to memorize all those sets of numbers!”
- “It only has one answer! It’s all-or-nothing subject!”
Here’s a little secret. Those who answer like that are those who don’t know how to learn math properly. Objectively, math is not more difficult than any other subject, like Science or Foreign Language. Math just have some set of rule that makes it different than the others, like its heavy use of numbers and logic.
These are 8 steps for you who feel like you’re weak at Math, but want to improve your marks:
1. Understand How Useful Math is in Real Life
First, you must have reason and motivation to study math. For some of you, especially those who likes abstract concept, mastering math just because it is one of the subject in school is not a good enough reason. You’ll bound to ask questions like these:
- “I’m not a math person.”
- “I’m just not good at number.”
- “What’s the use of learning algebra anyway if I want to be a doctor?”
While it is true that you should focus to develop your strength rather than your weakness, math is essential skill to have in life, no matter what profession you are going to choose later. Social studies, including psychology, economics, anthropology, and others require a lot of research – which requires statistical skill, and therefore math.
Science will always work closely with math. So, keep in mind that you need to study math, not just to pass the exam, but to support your dream career. Having the right motivation will help you to continue when you feel like giving in.
2. Review Your Current Level
How do you know you’re not good at math? From last exam result, or from your own anxiety and insecurity?
If you want to improve your math, you have to know where you are at now. To know this, you can take your latest homework and exam, see how much you got. Do you see any room for improvement?
Next step, check which part of the exam that you’re weak at. Are you weak at certain sub-subject, such as at geometry, but strong at another? Are you weak at all the sub-subject? Is your problem more about unable to recall the right formula or is it more about not checking everything twice?
Since you are the one who did the exam and homework, you should be able to answer all of them. However, you can also ask input from other people, for example your math teacher, to tell you in what part you are weak at.
3. Ask for Help
Now you know what you’re weak at. It’s time to improve it. The best way to do it is to ask help from other people that is better at this. You can study alone as well, but we think, since it’s your weakest subject, your solo study session won’t be as much effective as a session with someone more experienced in math, like tutor.
A tutor, upon knowing what you’re weak at and what’re you strong at, will develop a customized lesson plan that should cater your need.
For example, if you’re weak at algebra, your tutor may assign twice the time spent learning algebra rather than geometry, which you’re already somewhat good at. Tutor will guide you to overcome this weakness, and later will polish your strength as well.
4. Understand the Concept First
Many people fail math because they don’t understand the concept. They choose the easy route of memorizing formula, but without concept, those formulas are bound to be forgotten easily.
Read the textbook thoroughly, including the background problem and the explanation, don’t jump to a box in the corner of the book, filled with formula in bold. For example, rather than memorizing phi x r2as the formula of tube volume, by understanding a concept you’ll see that multiplying the circle area with the tube height will do the trick.
If it’s difficult to understand, use help from other sources – tutor, teacher, parents, or even smarter friend.
5. Give Yourself Time
Understanding the concept, to be honest, is not easy. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t get it in one sitting. Even your smartest kid in the class probably don’t read the textbook only once. Don’t rush to learn the next part (hint: usually, it will be harder for you to understand next part because it’s the more advanced version of the current part).
So, don’t beat yourself up over the length of time you spend trying to understand math. Give yourself time. Read not once or twice, but several time, until you truly understand.
6. Find Real World Problem and Example
You’ll understand and memorize everything better (including mathematical concept and formula) if it has something to do with you or your life directly.
Find mathematical problem in your textbook that is based on real world problem. For example, try to learn statistic by trying to make a statistic of your academic performance this year. Based from the exams and homework mark you’ve received so far, what is the mean and median?
If you have tutor, you can ask if he or she would be willing to give you these kind of problem as practice material instead of the usual classic textbook question.
Continue doing these six routine, without fail, and you’ll see with your own eyes how your math mark improve overtime. Do you have any experience improving your math grade? Did you do it alone or did you have any help? What technique did you use? Share your experience mastering math with the rest of us below.