Are Your Math Woes Adding Up? 11 Tips for Math Success

Math can be hard. This seems to be almost universally agreed upon. But don’t stress out too much, we’ve got you covered. With Math Lab operating all week, and tutors available for those extra difficult courses you need to pass to graduate. In the mean time, here are some useful tips compiled by the Math Department to help you come up with the answers you seek.

  •  Above all else, you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: go to class! Attendance records indicate that students who miss class generally receive lower grades


  • Remember, just because you can look up the answers, doesn’t mean you should. A solution guide or online program can be a crutch.  A person cannot learn to play the piano by watching! If you find you needed help to solve a problem and looked up the answer, mark the problem and return to it in a day or two. I if you can now work the problem out on your own, the answer guide did its job. However, If you still can’t get it, this is the time to find some help with the concepts.


  • You should take as detailed notes as possible. IF you are feeling confused, try and get down as much as possible, you can always come back once your questions are answered.  Review the notes after class, sometime before the next class to be sure you are ready for any new material. If there are questions on the material covered in class, get help (office hours or consider stopping by study tables) on understanding what was covered.


  • Read and re-read notes. Think about what each example is asking in terms of the concepts presented and why it is solved in a particular way. Instructors tend to ask exam questions that will cover the same concept in a different way. Therefore it is important to understand what is behind the question.


  • For every hour spent in class, three hours outside class should be spent working problems and studying. The piano is learned by practicing daily, not one evening before the recital. Study tables can be a great help here. Stop by the Halle library and check them out!


  • Practice positive self-talk about math – a positive attitude about the subject helps studying which helps grades. If you think you will get a failing grade, there is a good chance you might.
  • Don’t get behind! The classes all move at a fast pace and today’s lecture will likely build on the previous lecture. Even if you miss class you should try to look at the material that was covered during the class you missed. Try and get the notes from someone else in the class.


  • A point is a point. Students often take homework and quiz points less seriously than exam points. However, they are all added up at the end of the semester and can make quite a difference (for better or for worse) in your final grade.


  • Test taking is a skill. You should look through your entire exam and work the questions you think are the easiest first. Then go back and work the more difficult ones and skip those that you can’t do. It is poor strategy to run out of time when you have not had a chance to look at all the problems.


  • Wishing that a bad test will go away doesn’t work. If you do badly on an exam you should not throw it away (tempting as that may be). You should rework the exam and then go to your instructor’s office and discuss the test and what went wrong. Simply hoping that the next test will be better is rarely effective.


  • Don’t pin your hopes on the final. Miracles rarely happen on the final. Rather the final is often a low grade due to stress and exhaustion. Be sure your grade going into the final is strong enough to withstand a lower than usual performance. However, occasionally a student studies hard enough for the final that it does work to raise their grade.


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