12 Ways to Improve Mathematics Skill
Improve your Mathematics Skill
The following are some thoughts on how to improve your mathematics ability. Each one of these basic ideas relies heavily on the others and what works for one person may not be the best for another, but perhaps there is a tidbit here that will help you become aware of something you can do in your quest to improve at mathematics – or anything in life!
Sometimes there is no good substitute for hard work. Many mathematics concepts simply require practice. It never hurts to spend some extra time practicing the basics, the better you know them, more you can focus on the more advanced concepts. Some shy away from practice sheets and working problems, but with some concepts, the more time you spend doing them, the more likely you will remember it later. Practice for skill and practice for speed – making fast connections to the information is something that can be practiced.
- Stop comparing
Everyone is at different levels of math, reading, science, history – all things in life. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Don’t worry about how you measure up to others, just take control of the things you can control – you. Do what is needed for you to improve.
- Don’t be intimidated
Everything we do comes in small steps. Try not to get overly concerned with difficult problems, just realize they are probably difficult because you are missing one step or concept needed. Take a step back and review the basics, there is no urgent pressure to arrive at a certain level. Relax and enjoy the ride, keep trying.
- Try new methods
If something is not working for you, don’t feel locked in. Try a new approach and see if it won’t make a difference. Change your study time, or how long your study session is. Find different study methods or examples on the internet. Have someone new show you how they learned it. Try teaching the concept to someone else – this will show you where the holes in your understanding are.
- Share the journey
Find a mathematics partner or mentor – someone who is not necessarily an instructor, but someone who can understand your frustrations and help to encourage you to keep trying. Even just sharing study time with someone can be a great benefit.
- Make consistent effort
Don’t give up on math, and don’t give up on yourself. Make a plan that will allow you put forth a strong effort consistently for an extended period of time. Try an extra 15-20 minutes of math study 4 days a week for two months. Each time period is short enough that you can focus and work hard, yet there are enough opportunities to really gain ground.
- Make consistent progress
The phrase that comes to mind here is “Don’t spin your tires”. If there is a problem that is giving you fits, drop it and move on. Making progress is just as important as making the effort. You need to move forward or the thoughts of giving up grow. Remember though, our real goal is to find understanding, not just the answers to problems.
- Find a specific interest
Find how mathematics is used in one of your hobbies or interests and study those concepts. See if your understanding of the math involved helps you enjoy your other interests even more. Mathematics is everywhere and applying it something you enjoy may help you see how worthwhile math can be.
- Seek help when needed
It can be hard to ask for help, especially when you are asking for help with something you are already expected to know. The suggestion here is to understand that you can find someone to ask that will be willing to help without judgment. Don’t worry about asking, just know that nobody is an expert in everything, so everyone needs some help from time to time. It will take some pride-swallowing sometimes, but getting a small amount of help can be just the thing you need to break through some of your math barriers.
- Have confidence
You can take huge steps forward with consistent effort and the right attitude. Math may never be your favorite or best subject, but mathematics can be one of your valuable skills. Compare math to other hard things you have done and follow the same pattern. Be positive, visualize the goal, work at it – Yes! YOU can do it!
Ability or lack of ability is not the main reason for success or failure. More often, successful results come from the sheer determination to make them happen. Working hard for a long time at something brings about success even where it was thought unlikely or impossible. Keep your head up and lean into the work. Keep trying, you will make progress – not only in mathematics, but in building your character as well. Don’t stop when the going gets tough.
- Have fun
Enjoy the struggle. Even hard things can be fun with the right attitude. Be confident that your effort will pay off and enjoy the time and effort along the way. Mix things up, try new things, find new areas of interest, keep it fresh. Play math games or try math teaser puzzles. Study and practice with friends or family. Be creative about how you approach math and it won’t feel like torture – it can even turn out to be fun for you. Make Math a Game!
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