Math is different from other subjects!
Math requires different study processes. In other courses, you learn and understand the
material, but you seldom have to actually APPLY IT to learn. You have to DO math problems to learn math.
Math is a linear learning process. What is used one day is used the next, and so forth. (In
history, you can learn Chapter 2, skip Chapter 3, and still do OK on Chapter 4. In math,
you must understand the material in Chapter 1 before you go on to Chapter 2.) You must keep up with the instructor: attend class, read the text, and do homework everyday. Falling a day behind puts you at a disadvantage. Falling a week behind puts you in deep trouble.
Math is much like a foreign language. It must be practiced EVERY DAY, and often the vocabulary is unfamiliar.
Math in college is different from math in high school. Instead of going to class everyday, in college you go only two or three times a week. What took a year to learn in high school is now covered in only fifteen weeks. In college, exams are spaced further apart and so cover more material than high school tests. College instructors may not even check your homework. You are responsible for making sure that you understand the material.
I. Math Anxiety
A. Math is the course that causes the greatest anxiety for students. That means
you are not alone if you have math anxiety. Yes, believe it! Fortunately,
there are several strategies for reducing math anxiety.
1. Overcome negative self-talk.
a. Self-talk involves the things you say to yourself. It has a great effect on your
ability and motivation. Listen and become consciously aware of the types of
things your say to yourself. Make the decision to replace your negative self-talk
with positive self-talk. Learn to say:
1) I know I can do this.
2) I have studied and I know what I’m doing.
3) I will not give up until I’ve answered every question.
4) I believe that I will be able to remember what I’ve studied.
5) Seeing that makes me remember what else I studied about this idea.
b. Ask questions! If anything is unclear, or even if you want to confirm that what
you think is correct, ASK! Besides, there are usually other students wanting to
know the answers to the same questions you have.
c. Consider math a foreign language – it must be practiced.
d. Don’t rely on memorization to study mathematics. Math is learned by DOING
problems, not by trying to memorize them. Each problem is different. The ability
to solve problems must be learned by doing.
e. READ your math text book. Yes, actually read it! The text will give you another
perspective on the material and may even offer tips which were not covered in
class. Additionally, it is a great way to reinforce what you are learning in class.
f. Get help the same day that you find you don’t understand something.
g. Be relaxed and comfortable while studying math.
h. Develop responsibility for your own successes and failures. You found the correct
answer because YOU knew how to do the problem, not because it was just an
easy one. You had an answer wrong because YOU need more practice with that
type of problem..
Do You Have Math Anxiety? A Self Test
Rate your answers from 1 to 5; add them and check your score below.
(1) = Disagree, (5) = Agree.
1. I cringe when I have to go to math class. 1 2 3 4 5
2. I am uneasy about going to the board in a math class. 1 2 3 4 5
3. I am afraid to ask questions in math class. 1 2 3 4 5
4. I am always worried about being called on in math class. 1 2 3 4 5
5. I understand math now, but I worry that it's going to get really difficult soon.1 2 3 4 5
6. I tend to zone out in math class. 1 2 3 4 5
7. I fear math tests more than any other kind. 1 2 3 4 5
8. I don't know how to study for math tests. 1 2 3 4 5
9. It's clear to me in math class, but when I go home it's like I was never there. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up with the rest of the class. 1 2 3 4 5
CHECK YOUR SCORE
40-50 Sure thing, you have math anxiety.
30-39 No doubt! You're still fearful about math.
20-29 On the fence!
10-19 Wow! Loose as a goose!
Math anxiety is an emotional reaction to mathematics based on a past unpleasant experience which harms future
learning. A good experience learning mathematics can overcome these past feelings and success and future
achievement in math can be attained. ~Ellen Freedman