Strategies for Success
Overcoming Math Anxiety. By the time they reach the middle grades, many students are convinced that math is hard. They believe that they didn’t have the “knack” for it, and they dread math class. These students worry so much about math that
they almost guarantee themselves failure. If you’re one of these students,
there’s much you can do to replace your math worries with math success.
- Realize that boys and girls can do math equally well. The same is true for people of various ethnic groups. There is no one type of person who is predestined for math greatness.
- Keep your mind open and your emotions down. If you let yourself think that math is hard or impossible, it will be.
- Be persistent in working on your math. Remember that everybody makes mistakes. Learn from your mistakes.
- Get in touch with your math feelings. When your mind starts to flood with math worries, stop, take a deep breath and clear your thoughts. Take a moment or two to rest. Then redirect yourself to the problem you’re working on and tell yourself that you can do it.
- Make a commitment to study. Being prepared is one of the best ways to reduce worry.
- When you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask the teacher.
- Keep notes and review your notes as necessary.
- Study with a friend. The companionship can make the worries easier to handle.
- Keep a sense of humor. So you missed a problem. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll try again tomorrow, and probably be successful.
Note Taking Tips for Math
- Write down the title of the lesson. If you don’t know, ask the teacher.
- Write down the math problem and each step in the solution using math symbols. Next to each step write down “in your own words” exactly what you are doing.
- Write down a “question Mark” next to anything you don’t understand. Ask the teacher to explain the parts where you have written your “question marks”. Don’t just “let it go” thinking that you will figure it out later. Many times, it doesn’t happen.
- When you get home, before you start your homework, “highlight in color” the lesson titles you have written in your notes. The highlighted information will help to give you the “big picture” of what you are doing.
- Remember, do all homework problems, not just some of them.
Strategies for Taking Math Tests
Before the Test:
- Prepare by studying all the types of problems that might be on the test.
- If you are having trouble with some of the material, ask your teacher for help a few days before the test. This will give you time to master the problems.
- If you find it helpful, study with a friend. Working with a classmate gives you the chance to share insights and talk about specific problems. It also reduces the feeling of isolation, that you are the only one who finds some of the problems difficult.
- Think positively about the test. Don’t let the comments of others about how hard the test will be affect you. It won’t be hard if you are prepared.
- Recognize that most people are anxious or nervous about tests. Such feelings usually pass once the test starts.
- Employ mental imaging. Imagine yourself doing well on the test, picture yourself solving the problems and getting a high score. Professional athletes often use mental imaging to improve their performance.
- Promise yourself a reward for doing well on the test. Prepare yourself physically. Get a restful night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and get to class on time. Rushing to avoid being late will likely upset your concentration for the upcoming test. If your test is in the afternoon, remain calm throughout the day and eat a good lunch.
- Go to the class ready to take the test. Be sure you have everything you need –study guides, notebook, pencils and calculator. Don’t forget your glasses or contacts. Bring plenty of tissues if you have the sniffles.
During the Test:
- Listen carefully to any instructions. If you have any questions, or don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
- If you feel very nervous, take a few deep breaths and, for a few moments, think of a favorite place, or an activity you enjoy doing. Getting your mind off the test will help you regain your composure.
- Read any directions carefully.
- Pace yourself. Work quickly but be accurate. Make sure that your answers are clear.
- Don’t spend too much time on problems that seem hard to you. Move on to easier ones, but remember to go back. Budget your time; spend the most time on portions of the test that are worth the most points.
- On multiple choice tests – if you get stuck on an item, eliminate the answers that you know can’t be right and work from there. If necessary, make an educated guess from the answers you can’t eliminate.
- If time remains after completing the test, go over it and double-check your answers.
- If you run out of time, and if unanswered questions will be marked wrong, then guess. You have nothing to lose.
- If you do well on the test, reward yourself. If you didn’t do as well as
you believe you could have, reward yourself for trying and learn from your
mistakes. Resolve to do better the next time.