- Learning how to do better in math can be an invaluable skill inside and outside the classroom.
- The top tip for learning how to be good in math is to master basic concepts and formulas before solving more complex problems.
- Once you learn, math can even be fun!
Learning how to do better in math is a useful skill not just in the classroom and exams but in everyday life too. We may not be consciously aware of it, but we use the principles of math multiple times in various scenarios throughout the day.
You use math to balance your checkbook, calculate interest on your student loans, and manage your finances. You also use math when weighing ingredients, converting pounds to grams for baking, or figuring out the distance you need to travel to get from X to Y and how much it will cost you. The list is endless.
And if you decide to pursue a career in finance, engineering, architecture, or computer programming, you’ll need to master advanced math concepts. It could be that you understand the importance of math, but you still struggle with it. These tips on how to be better in math will help you navigate some of the common obstacles and become more competent in this subject.
7 Tips On How To Be Good In Math
1. Master the Basics
The importance of a strong foundation in math cannot be overestimated. You cannot expect to understand more advanced concepts or solve more complex problems without mastering basic arithmetic functions.
Think of it as learning a foreign language, say Japanese. You cannot be fluent in Japanese unless you master the basics of the language – the Japanese alphabet, verbs, pronunciation, and other nuances.
It’s the same with math. You cannot calculate the area of a rectangle, the volume of a box, or the diameter of a circle without first understanding addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. These are the absolute basic concepts involved in math. Other basic math skills include decimals, fractions, percentages, ratios, and geometrical functions.
If you find yourself constantly struggling with solving math problems, go back to basics. Focus on setting a strong foundation before even thinking about progressing to the next difficulty level. It may seem like a slow, and boring, way to learn how to do well in math, but try it and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
2. Pay Attention In The Classroom
School curriculums are set in such a way that the higher grade picks up where the lower grade left off. If you pay attention in the classroom and complete your math homework on time, in theory, you will learn everything you need to know at your grade level. This will make it easier for you to understand more complex math formulas and solve more complicated math problems the following year.
If the tip sounds too simple to actually work, try it during your next math class. Pay attention to your math teacher. Math teachers know how to simplify even the most complex problems and explain them at the appropriate grade level so all the students understand.
Another major benefit of paying attention in the classroom? If you don’t understand something you can ask your teacher right away and get an explanation. That way you can keep up with all your classes and never again be left behind.
3. Understand Concepts And Processes – Don’t Just Memorize
It’s tempting to take the shortcut and memorize formulas and processes without actually understanding basic math concepts. However, this can cause a lot of problems especially when answering your math exam. When trying to solve a problem, you may mix up one process with another, get confused about the right formula to use or forget one step.
The thing about math is that the smallest error in any step of problem-solving will give you the wrong result. Unlike most other subjects where a small error may be overlooked, with math problems, the smallest mistake, even a wrongly placed decimal point, will give you a wrong result.
There’s no such thing as a small error in math. Your answer is either right or it’s wrong. Think of it as ‘all or nothing’, which is why it is so very important to learn how to be good in math right at the very beginning.
4. Break Down Complex Problems
Some problems can be truly complex with multiple facts and figures that you need to somehow make sense of and try to resolve. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with staring at such as problem and it’s tempting to give it a pass and move on to the next problem. Well, you can’t do that every time.
A better strategy is to figure out how to approach the problem and solve it. It helps to remember that every complex, multi-part question is made up of individual questions. The best way to solve a complex math problem is by breaking it down into smaller parts.
Consider all the facts and figures included in the problem. Break them down into individual, more manageable chunks of information. Figure out how to solve each bite-sized section individually instead of tackling the whole question at once. Solving complex math problems in this manner can make it less daunting and so much easier to understand.
5. Use Real-World Examples
Many students stumble with math concepts because they feel abstract, which can be confusing. For example, if you have to find the answer to 35% of 200, it may feel like a lot of numbers that don’t relate to anything. This can be confusing.
Now try and apply that concept to a real-life situation. For example, imagine you’re in a clothes store that has a 35% discount on a $200 outfit you want to buy. Think about how you would calculate the price you’d have to pay.
When trying to master the concept of ratios, think about it in terms of measuring ingredients for cooking. When you visualize the problem and apply it to a real-life situation, you will find it easier to solve.
6. Use A Variety Of Resources
Not every student finds it easy to understand numbers or other subjects as they are taught in the classroom. Every individual learns differently. Some are visual learners and need to see the problem laid out graphically. Others learn better through watching video tutorials. Still, others may find that the traditional textbook technique works best for them.
Take some time to figure out what learning style works best for you and explore resources that teach math in a style that best suits your specific style. This is the best way to foster
Find the resource that best suits your specific needs and helps you learn how to do good in math without struggling unnecessarily.
Khan Academy is a great resource for learning how to do better in math. Their lessons are organized by grade level and sub-subspecialties so it’s easy to find the exact math topic you want to learn more about. All math concepts are explained very well through text and videos to suit all learning styles.
7. Go Get Extra Help
If, after trying everything else, you still find yourself struggling, it may help to get one-on-one time from your teacher, a parent, or an experienced tutor. If you can’t find someone in person who can help, check online. Whether you choose in-person or online, the key is to look for a tutor that best suits your learning style.
A tutor will break down complex problems and simplify them so they are easier to understand. They will also help improve your problem-solving strategies and help you understand when and why to use specific formulas. One-on-one tutoring can be expensive but likely worth it even for a short time to master the basics.
Math is a useful skill to master but it takes time, patience, and persistence. These tips on how to do better in math can help – especially if you are taking an upcoming ACT or SAT!
Want to see how your ACT / SAT score or GPA affects your acceptance odds? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool now.