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SMC|Academic Programs|Mathematics|How to Succeed in Mathematics

How to Succeed in Mathematics

To be successful in any mathematics class you take:

  • Attend class on a regular basis. Statistics prove that those students who attend class regularly from the first day have much greater success since learning mathematics is a step by step process. Every time you miss class, you are missing vital information which will make it difficult to grasp later mathematical concepts.
  • Be involved in the class. Math is not a spectator sport! Be an active listener, take good notes and write down key examples which are being presented. Ask questions when you are unclear about mathematical ideas.
  • Preview new material. Before going to class, take some time to look over the section your instructor is going to explain the next day. This will help you have some idea which is to come and allow you to consider possible questions you may wish to raise in class.
  • Take time to do your homework and do it on time. Mathematics can be a lot of fun when you understand what is being explained. When you are not keeping up with the class, it becomes more difficult to follow the instructor's explanation and to read the book.
  • Make friends in class. Classmates can make great study partners, take notes for you when you must be absent, and encourage you when you experience difficulty. In fact, studies have demonstrated that those people who work together to learn mathematics have a higher success rate.
  • Seek assistance. Sometimes, even when you attend class regularly, take careful notes, study your textbook and do all your homework, you still find that you do not understand certain concepts. If this happens, make an appointment to get help from your instructor during office hours. If a math lab is available, find out what tutoring services are available. Sometimes a different approach from a tutor or instructional assistant can help clarify any difficulties you might be having. In addition to tutoring, a math lab may have computer software or videotapes which explain the material you are studying.
  • Be neat, accurate and well organized. You should always attempt to do qu1ality work on all exercises.
  • Persevere. An interesting characteristic of learning mathematics is that at one moment you may feel totally confused, and then suddenly the light bulb goes on and you understand the material! Some mathematical concepts take time to digest and you might find that after a few days of working some of the exercises, they finally start to make sense.
  • Prepare for your exams. In math courses, you show proficiency by taking exams. Study for exams by reviewing your class notes, examples in the textbook, chapter reviews, practice tests, and especially review all the problems on the study guide which accompanies your text.
  • Tell yourself what you have learned. As you learn new concepts, point out to yourself what you have learned so that your confidence in your mathematical ability will increase. Each mathematical concept you understand becomes another tool that you can use.

Prepared by: Professors Terry Green & John Kennedy