For many people the very idea of taking a math class causes anxiety, in some cases, extreme anxiety. This is generally the result of having had problems with math in the past, but also because math has come to stand as sort of a symbol of sorts, whereby people proclaim themselves or others as simply not math type people. This is unfortunate, because as the future unfolds math is becoming ever more important as it has become a component of so many of the sciences, and a requirement for a degree in virtually any technical field. And as the future unfolds, it seems as though more and more a technical degree is the way to secure a bright future. Thus, students need to get better at math if they are having problems with it, rather than give up and slide on over to a liberal arts degree. Many students may not realize it but there are some simple techniques they can use that will help them do better in math class.
One of the least practiced but best techniques for getting a handle on math is to practice proactive studying. What this means is, you jump right on the math course, rather than waiting for the instructor to force feed you the information. Buy the match book as early as you can, as soon as you know which class you’re going to have. Then, open it up and browse the whole thing before school starts. Skim each chapter to give yourself an idea of what will be taught in the class. Then, go back to the first chapter and read it thoroughly. Read every word and study every example. Try to understand the overall concept that is being discussed and then do the problems in the back of the section or chapter.
If you feel like you don’t have a clue as to what is going on, seek assistance right away, even before the class starts. Find a tutor or even seek out the person that will be teaching the course. Do whatever it is you can to grasp what is going on. Even if you don’t quite get it, you’ll be coming from a much stronger position than if you just walked into your first class cold and sat there glazing over as the instructor talks and writes stuff on the board. With some familiarity with the material you’ll at least be able to concentrate on the parts you are having trouble with and then perhaps be able to ask intelligent questions about the material. Doing this will help you to better understand the material because you’ll be seeing it more than once, but also because you instructor will see you are serious about learning and will be more willing to help you.
Then, keep this up for the whole semester. Read each section and try to work the problems before the next class so that you are never getting the information cold in class. Then ask questions and always do all of your homework; and finally, try to open your mind to the possibility that you really will be able to understand what is being taught, if you really work at it.