Effective Ways of Studying Math

This information was adapted from materials by Paul Nolting.

Goals for Learning Math

*To build a good foundation for acquiring more advanced math skills
*To learn problem-solving skills in math that can be applied to real-life situations
*To increase confidence in yourself to allow you to study and learn math in a more enjoyable way
*To feel confident in taking math tests without "going blank," or "freezing up"
*To eliminate test anxiety

How to Achieve the Goals

Before Attending Your First Class

*Have a positive attitude toward the class and make a firm commitment to perform well in your math class.

*Communicate with your instructor and develop a good rapport with him/her.

*Discover your weak areas and ask your instructor to review these areas with you the first week of class.

*Develop a study schedule that will allow time to work on math every day (at least one hour or more of math per day). Continual reinforcement of newly acquired math skills will help you remember the material.

*Read sections of the textbook that will be covered in the next class. In math courses, information is presented in sequence. What you learn in one chapter is essential to your understanding of information in the next chapter. The key to understanding mathematics is to thoroughly comprehend how or why an operation works. To solve problems you need to reason through them. Simply memorizing steps, rules, and procedures without understanding them is a strategy that will not work in math.

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During Class Time
*Attend class regularly. Since information in math is sequential, if you miss a class, you miss a step in the sequence that you will need to catch up on, or you will fall behind. Sit in the front of the class if you have trouble with math.

*Have a notebook for Math ONLY. In note taking for math, be sure to write down all formulas as well as all examples and steps.

*Label all class notes and homework with date, page, and section number.

*Write sentences and math problems down the page--not straight across.

*Write a one-word description in the margin of your notes indicating definitions, formulas, specific examples, etc. Develop a note taking system. Ask questions when you do not understand.

*Write down questions for your instructor or tutor while you are completing your math homework.

After Class
*If possible, try to schedule a study time soon after your math class.

*Review your notes, preferably within three hours but at least on the same day.

*Work all of the examples that the instructor worked in class. Make note cards of these examples. For additional practice, work all the example problems in the text. Work until you have mastered the concepts.

*Get help before the next class on homework problems you cannot work correctly. Talk to your instructor or get assistance from a tutor in the lab.

*Keep up-to-date with all of your assignments. If you miss a class, call your instructor or a classmate before the next class. Your instructor may allow you to attend the same course that is taught at a different time or day. Remember that you are responsible for material covered in class that you have missed.

How to Survive Math Tests

Before the Test
*Study for the test EVERYDAY. Constant review will help you retain the information in your long-term memory. Carry note cards of formulas and sample problems with you, so that you can study between classes or while waiting for an appointment.

*Review definitions and formulas from note cards. Review homework assignments: read over your notes and work the examples.

*Work all the problems in the chapter review, marking the difficult ones.

*If your textbook has a practice test, take the test and check your results. Or, make up your own test and exchange it with a classmate. Simulating the testing situation can help lessen your anxiety when it is time to take the actual exam.

*Get help in the math lab with problems you still do not understand.

*Take full advantage of ALL the helpful resources in the math lab. Tutors are on hand for individual assistance. For difficult topics, review the videotapes in the lab before going to class. Bring a blank tape and make your own copy of the videotapes.

Taking the Test
*If you studied correctly, you should feel confident. If you are experiencing anxiety, take a few deep breaths and relax for a minute.

*Write down formulas or definitions as soon as you receive the test paper.

*Skim through the test and answer the easiest questions first. Be aware of the time allotted.

*If you get partial credit for problems, do not leave any questions blank.

After the Test
*Work the problems that you missed as soon as possible after the test.

*Do not discard your old tests, you can use them to study for tests you take later.

*Keep up with your test grades.

Studying for the Final Exam

*Review all of your previous tests.

*Redo chapter reviews and chapter tests in your textbooks.

*Work any worksheets given to you by your instructor.

*Watch the video (or make your own copy) of the final exam review in the math lab.

*Take the practice exam found on the MTSU Developmental Math web site.

*Know the location and time of the final exam.

*Be on time and have all the materials you need for the test.