Tips on how to study mathematics, how to approach problem-solving, how to study for and take (take with a grain of salt idiom synonym) tests, and when and how to get help.
Studying Math is Different from Studying Other Subjects
- Math is learned by doing problems. Do the homework. The problems help you learn the formulas and techniques you do need to know, as well as improve your problem-solving prowess.
- A word of warning: Each class builds on the previous ones, all semester long. You must keep up with the Instructor: attend class, read the text and do homework every day. Falling a day behind puts you at a disadvantage. Falling a week behind puts you in deep trouble.
- A word of encouragement: Each class builds on the previous ones, all semester long. You’re always reviewing previous material as you do new material. Many of the ideas hang together. Identifying and learning the key concepts means you don’t have to memorize as much.
Be actively involved in managing the learning process, the mathematics and your study time:
- Take responsibility for studying, recognizing what you do and don’t know, and knowing how to get your Instructor to help you with what you don’t know.
- Attend class every day and take complete notes. Instructors formulate test questions based on material and examples covered in class as well as on those in the text.
- Be an active participant in the classroom. Get ahead in the book; try to work some of the problems before they are covered in class. Anticipate what the Instructor’s next step will be.
- Ask questions in class! There are usually other students wanting to know the answers to the same questions you have.
- Go to office hours and ask questions. The Instructor will be pleased to see that you are interested, and you will be actively helping yourself.
- Good study habits throughout the semester make it easier to study for tests.
You may know a rule of thumb about math (and other) classes: at least 2 hours of study time (race against time phrase meaning) per class hour. But this may not be enough!
- Take as much time as you need to do all the homework and to get complete understanding of the material.
- Form a study group. Meet once or twice a week (also use the phone). Go over problems you’ve had trouble with. Either someone else in the group will help you, or you will discover you’re all stuck on the same problems. Then it’s time to get help from your Instructor.
- The more challenging the material, the more time you should spend on it.