Understanding Math

The best way to improve your understanding of Mathematics, and avoid having to rely on memorisation, is to spend much of your study time either solving or studying problems.
The best way to study for a math exam is to do exactly the same thing that you would be doing in the exam… ie sit down with a lot of problems and try to solve them.

Imagine you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your math study and you go into the exam suffering from excessive anxiety. All that hard work is wasted when all you really needed was some instruction on the correct way to learn math and how to reduce the anxiety.

A lot of this involves understanding math problems rather than memorising them!

Here are a few suggestions for problem solving:

  • Always read through the problem first to get an overview.
  • In your own words, state what the the problem is asking for.
  • If it seems appropriate, try to draw a diagram of the problem.
  • If you can’t make any progress, take a break and try again later
  • Break the problem down into simpler problems
  • Think of as many formulae as possible that might be related to the problem
  • Work backwards and ask yourself what it is you need to know to get the answer.
  • Guess an answer and check to see if it’s correct. The method you use might give you an idea of how to solve the problem.
  • Think aloud… verbalisation can help to find a solution.
  • Practice solving math problems.

There are a lot of websites which offer free math help to students. The best math help online I can suggest are those sites that offer questions and answers to most of your math problems. Some of them are selected from questions which have been sent in by real students so you can be sure that they’re real problems that offer real math help.

The answers to these problems are written by experienced math tutors. All you do is choose from categories such as:

  • Trigonometry
  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Geometry

and then find a problem related to what you’re studying.

Alternatively, on some sites you can send in your problem and usually within 24 – 48 hours they will email you back with hints and suggestions to help you solve your math problem.

As already mentioned, the best math help is to solve as many problems as possible. Web sites like StudyDaddy can be a great help with this because you are able to find lots of questions that you can practice with, and if you get stuck, just send in a query to the tutors and they’ll answer it for you!