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How to actually learn Math and be good at it!

Smiling Nerd

How to actually learn Math and be good at it!

Math lies as the basis of all things on this planet and is truly a universal language, if any can be said to exist. In Northern Virginia, the school system offers a rigorous courseload in math(see here- full curriculum for Arlington county public schools -http://www.apsva.us/programofstudies), yet many students aren’t developing a mastery in the subject. Here is how to understand math and have your grades in school positively reflect. 

Study Skills

At first, you have to assess your current study and homework habits and approach to learning new concepts. Do you actively work towards understanding each new concept the teacher or professor introduces to the class every week? Are you letting the work pile up and slowly slipping behind, with the whole of the subject appearing hazy and confusing? It’s important to recognize your current routine and assess what is working and what isn’t. We recommend the following:
Follow the syllabus! Northern Virginia schools provide full course syllabi to students. Keep your syllabus in your binder and refer to it regularly. Everything on the syllabus is what your teacher has decided is important for their student’s to know in order to properly cover the math course. Each day refer to your syllabus and complete the assignments for that particular date. Allow time for yourself to relax after getting home from school, and then put aside two hours of quiet study time. It can be hard to do this regularly at first, but after the first few times, you will find yourself looking forward to it, as it will be very rewarding.

 Begin the task

Once you sit down to study, begin studying immediately. Here, a common pitfall is to squeeze in a last few minutes of facebook time or web surfing. Science proves, however that beginning a task is the most important step. A task that has been started is far more likely to be completed. You’ll find soon after starting that you are glad you did. Here, its important to start with the easier concepts first. Let your brain warm up! Then begin tackling the more unfamiliar concepts. If you are working with a tutor, you should email him about any questions or concepts that you are having difficulty with. Your tutor can also work on that question with you more thoroughly at your tutoring session. 

Understand the process

Studying Math is a different process than studying other subjects. Math is learned by doing problems. Do the homework. The problems help you learn the formulas and techniques that you need to know as well as training you become proficient in solving mathematics problems. Paying attention in class factors in here, its very important to do so because each concept builds on the previous ones, all semester long. Northern Virginia schools start early, so be sure to get enough sleep so you can be full of energy throughout the day. In class, ask questions! If some math concept isn’t making sense, then ask your instructor.  Chances are you are not the only one in the class who doesn’t understand. Also, listen when other students ask questions. Make sure you listen to both the question and the answer.  It may be that the student asking the question thought of something that you didn’t think of.

Work with your Tutor

However, if after class, you do find that you didn’t quite fully master a certain concept, then be sure to work closely with your tutor to really unravel that concept and become proficient in it. Your tutor is an experienced pro who has been working with these concepts for years. Be sure to pay attention and work through as many math problems as possible with your tutor. The homework is also very helpful, working alone and with your tutor, be sure to complete your homework fully and even double check it. Remember to review previous material as you do new material. Many of the ideas hang together and form a complex web, that you will slowly start seeing fully. Identifying and learning the key concepts means you don’t have to memorize as much, either. By taking assignments head on and not delaying, you will find that you have much more time to double check your work. Then after that, relax! You’ve done great work, and its important to relax and let the information settle in your brain. 

Studying math in this way regularly will help you gain a lot of ground in understanding the concepts and your grades will begin to show positive improvement as well.