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10 tips to learn math

21-03-2014
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Anibal
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Mathematics is just like anything else. If you want to get good at math, you have work hard and practice continually. Nevertheless, here we give you some practical tips to best learn math.

1. Find a quiet place to study and remove distractions.

Try to find a quiet spot in your home or in the Library to study or to get your schoolwork done. You will notice that you get your work done much more quickly because you'll be able to focus and absorb more. If you like listening to music while studying, we think that it is much more effective if you don't. There are other distractions you must avoid, like being on the internet, talking to your friends or watching TV. In order to learn, you need to ignore everything else while you are studying. Learning takes not only effort and time, but also intense concentration.

2. Focus on mastering a topic before moving on to the next one.

Math concepts are supported by other concepts that should be previously mastered. Don’t move to a new lesson if you don’t understand the one you are studying. It sounds simple, but it is absolutely essential. Most math courses are taught in a specific order, an order shouldn’t be altered, because every topic is usually built on the previous topics. If you are having a problem with a topic, continue working hard with that one until you understand it and can work problems successfully.

3. Learn by example.

Most textbooks include a section of problems at the end of each chapter which answers can be found in the last pages of the book. It is very important for you to try to solve as many problems as you can, checking your answers with the ones in the book. If the book also includes some solved examples, try to understand these examples first. Always begin with the easiest problems in your book, even if you think it will be too easy to solve, because they will build your confidence. You cannot just read a section in a Math book and become an expert on that section. You must gradually work harder and harder problems from your book and check your answer for each one. After working more than 20 problems from the section, then you are ready to move on to the next section.

4. If you have problems understanding something, use different channels and books.

The way a topic is explained varies from book to book, as well as the solved examples they include. When you have problems understanding a section, a good strategy could be to get a totally different book to have this section explained a different way, but whatever you do, don’t turn the page until you are sure you have understood the topic and that you can work on the related problems.

5. When beginning to work a Math problem, define the plan you will use, draw a picture of the problem if necessary, and write everything.

It is very common trying to figure out the answer of a problem in your head before writing anything down. Start by writing down the problem, then you begin to solve it one step at a time. Write down even the simpler things, this will allow you to check your work and break the problem down into little pieces, which are easier to check.

When facing a hard math problem it is a good idea to define a plan to solve it, sometimes it is useful to draw a picture of the problem or a graphic representation, think about an easier version of the problem or other strategies, until your feel you are familiarized with the problem. In geometrical problems, make extensions of lines and figures, trying to recognize a familiar pattern that gives you some clue of how to solve the problem.

6. Try to learn the origin of the formulas and how to deduce them.

Although there are different techniques to learn unrelated numbers and words, which can be applied to the learning of formulas as well, it’s not recommended to learn formulas by heart. Most of the formulas can be deduced from their own definition and meaning, like the ones we use to compute areas and volumes; and even when sometimes it’s inevitable to learn them by heart, if you understand their origin and how to deduce them, you will be in a better position to remember and use them.

7. Try to explain the topic to others.

Teaching to others is an effective way to learn. If there is someone who doesn’t understand a topic that you have already understood, try to help that person, even when you are aware that your own work will take longer. The process of explaining and rephrasing information back to someone else and breaking things down into bite sized chunks will increase your own understanding. It will help you understand at a fundamental level what the stumbling blocks are for the topic, and how to overcome them.

8. Keep your solutions neat and line-by-line.

Express your solution as clear as possible, one step on every line, no matter how much paper you need. On the one hand, it will allow you to follow your steps much more easily; on the other hand, the teacher will be able to follow your work much better. The steps you write down tell the teacher what you have a good understanding of the problem, and know how to solve it, even when some step could have an error.

9. Get enough sleep. Don't work problems very late at night.

Sleep is an important key to improve your learning process. Deep sleep is a phase during the night where we process what we thought about during the day and this is when more permanent memories are laid down. Avoid cramming your math formulas the night before an exam until late. Have a plan for what you are going to learn and spread it out so that it is not overwhelming. Research has shown that learning has a passive component. While you are asleep at night your brain will categorize and file things you learned during the day. At night it makes connections so that you can recall things next days. However, you will remember far less the next day if you get only five hours of sleep.

10. Practice, once and again.

Homework is important because it forces yourself to practice the topics you learnt, but often it is not enough to master those topics, you probably need to practice much more. Repetition is a very important aspect of learning. If you practice a new skill, the connections between neurons in your brain are strengthened. But if you don’t practice, then the weak bonds are broken. The more you practice, the easier are concepts to you. Review what you have learnt right away and as many times as you can, it will increase your long-term memory significantly, and will help you remember most of what you have studied.

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1 Comment

June

June

08-Jun-2015
Good tips. Thanks. 100% yes for me
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