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How can I get better at math?

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I really struggle with math. Do you have any tips on how I can get better at it?
asked Nov 6, 2015 in Reference and Education by tobylee
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Although math may seem boring -- particularly if it is something you struggle with, it is actually one of the most essential skills you can learn. We all use math in our day to day lives in countless different ways. Cooking, knitting, playing a musical instrument, balancing your checkbook and tons other everyday activities all involve some form of mathematics.


Unfortunately, math is one of those things that is extremely challenging for a lot of people. If you fall into this category it's easy to take on a defeatist attitude and decide that you simply aren't good at math and there is nothing that you can do about it. In fact, however, nothing could be further from the truth. No matter who you are or how old you are, it is always possible to become better at math. The following tips will help you improve your basic math skills. Before you know it you will be crunching numbers like a pro!


1. Make sure you understand the basics. Each math subject that you study builds on other math subjects that you have studied before. For instance, you have to know how to do basic addition and subtraction before you can master more complex math topics. Because of this, if any of your basic math skills are lacking, you will have an incredibly hard time understanding more advanced techniques. [1]


The best way to overcome this is by going back to the beginning and honing your basic math skills. Along the way, you may find certain concepts or techniques that you struggle with. For example, perhaps you have a really hard time understanding long division or figuring out how to reduce fractions. Spend as much time as you need on these areas until you fully understand them. By giving yourself a solid foundation in math, you will be far better able to understand more complex topics. It is a bit like learning to write. You have to learn the alphabet before you can write words.


2. Focus on understanding why you are supposed to do things a certain way rather than just memorizing the process. A lot of times math classes focus on teaching a set of steps that you should take to solve a particular type of problem. While this may help you arrive at the right answer, it doesn't help you understand why you would want to solve the problem in the first place. Rather than trying to memorize a set of steps, start by looking deeper into the problem to figure out the "why"  behind it. What will you accomplish by solving it? What are some practical applications for this type of problem? What purpose do each of the steps serve? By developing a deeper understanding of the reasons why you do things in a certain order, you will get a much better grasp on the overall concept. Not only that, but it can make math a lot more fun and interesting to study. [2]


3. Try playing math games online. There are a lot of different websites that have free math games that you can play. Not only can they be a lot of fun, but they can help your brain make connections in a new way, allowing you to grasp concepts that may have previously eluded you.


4. Get a tutor. Sometimes one-on-one help can make a huge difference in your level of understanding. Thanks to the Internet, you don't even have to leave home to get tutored in math. There are plenty of organizations that offer tutoring through Skype or other online communication tools.


5. Try to explain how to do a particular problem to someone else. This forces you to be sure that you really understand how to do it. Any parts of the explanation that you struggle with can help you zero in on areas where you  need to do more work in order to improve your understanding.


6. Get rid of distractions. Trying to do math is hard enough without a TV blaring in the background or a barrage of text messages lighting up your phone. Work in a quiet area that is completely free from distractions. If you find yourself getting tired and your mind starts wandering, take a short break so you can come back feeling refreshed and focused.


7. Practice, practice, practice. The more you do something, the better you will get at it. Look up extra problems online that you can use to practice. Many sites offer everything from basic exercises to fake exams that you can use to challenge yourself and test your skills.


Here are a few more ideas that can help:





1. http://www.mathgoodies.com/articles/improve_your_grades.html
2. http://math.about.com/od/booksresourcesdvds/tp/Improve-Math.htm

answered Nov 7, 2015 by blueskies (57,070 points)

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