How do I study mathematics and pass my exam? July 11, 2021 – Posted in: Mathematics – Tags: algebra, exams
Not sure how best to study math ? Are you perhaps someone who starts studying the day before the exam? Then you know yourself that your situation is not the most ideal. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to make you a maths crack or pass your exam in no time . It is important to know that mathematics always builds on itself. Were you bad at the theory or understanding of mathematics last year? Chances are you will have the same problem this year. Follow the step-by-step plan below to organize your hours and change your complicated relationship with mathematics.
Prepare the math class
The best students are those who prepare the lesson. That way you already have a small head start and before you cover the subject matter in class.. Of course we don’t ask you to study the theory beforehand . What we do recommend is to look up a blog post or an introduction video before starting a new chapter. Videos last about 5-10 minutes. This gives you an edge over the rest and you are more confident . The subject also looks more interesting. Does the math teacher start the chapter with a difficult question? Then you amaze everyone with your knowledge. And that by just watching a movie for 10 minutes, nice right?
Set aside enough time for math
Often students underestimate how much time it takes to learn math and don’t factor it into their planning. Suppose you plan a few hours to solve all the problems of three chapters. You get stuck on an exercise and can’t find the solution. Due to lack of time, you move on to the next exercise, where you may also be stuck. You start to stress and you lose confidence, making it even more difficult for you to do the exercises. In the end you worked the scheduled hours without achieving anything! Very annoying and demotivating.
Is math your stumbling block? Then you absolutely do not want to study under stress . So always make sure you schedule enough time for math so that you can study each assignment at your leisure. How much time you need to schedule depends on your personal situation: are you studying for a test or an exam? What high school are you in? Do you study a lot during the year or only during the exams? It is a process of trial and error, but allow sufficient time with possible catch-up hours .
Provide sufficient material
Make sure you have enough exercises available. In the end, that’s what it’s all about during a test or exam: making exercises! During the lesson you work out a certain number of exercises with the help of the teacher, and as homework. There are still a number of exercises in your math textbooks that you have never looked at before. Ask your teacher for an explanation. Or ask him for extra exercises. This way you do not always make the same exercises and you increase your insight. Moreover, there is a good chance that one of the ‘extra’ questions in your book will appear on your test or exam!
First theory, then exercises
Mathematics consists of theory and practice. Theory is the building block of practice , the exercises. If you do not master the theory sufficiently, you cannot solve exercises in practice. Never start the exercises without studying the theory. Create a diagram or summary that you are proud of: with all the formulas, rules and definitions of the topics.
Some tips to learn the theory of mathematics
Make sure you understand math
Math formulas contain strange signs that you don’t know what they mean. Or you think you half understand. Look at the formula and look at each element . What do you understand? What do not you understand? Try to say math in words instead of signs.
Above you see the area of a circle. At first this looks like Chinese. All strange signs. A is equal to pi multiplied by r squared. What does this mean?
We break down each element:
A is the area of the circle
pi is 3.141592
r is the radius of the circle
Now we understand the formula better: we read that the area of the circle is equal to pi multiplied by the square of the radius of that circle.
It also helps to look up evidence of new formulas. How did the formula come about? Why do we use it? The more details you know about a formula, the better you understand it and the more it makes sense to you. And the more logical, the easier it is to remember it!
Don’t forget the examples
Be active with your notes and workbook and don’t skip the examples. The examples are further extensions of the theory you need to understand everything. The text from your book first gives an ‘easy’ version of the theory and expands it further with examples or applications. Many skip this and therefore miss a piece of insight.
Are you learning about pi? Your book gives the theory: the magnitude of pi, the formula for the circumference of a circle, the formula for the area of a circle, etc. After that comes an example. For example, the elaboration to find the area of a certain circle.
It’s up to you to bring all the missing steps together. Those steps are the key to mastering the techniques . Sometimes students complain in frustration: “how the hell did you arrive at the right answer?” Process the examples into theory to arrive at the right solution.
Make math less abstract
One of the biggest reasons math is one of my least favorite subjects is because it looks incomprehensible and abstract: all those x’s, y’s and other weird signs. That also makes it difficult to study mathematics. What does everything mean? Look up practical examples to make the math topics less abstract.
Back to pi. We learned how to calculate perimeter and areas. Unfortunately, no one runs home cheering that they’ve learned about pi. It doesn’t sound fun or challenging. But what if we apply it to a pizza? Suddenly it’s much more interesting!
By making math practical , you make it more fun. Your brain will understand the theory more and remember it longer . Several math courses have additional parts with practical applications. You can always ask your teacher for practical examples. Not only do you understand the theory better, you also score extra points with your teacher. Who doesn’t want that? 😉
Practice, practice, practice
Now that you’ve mastered the theory, start the exercises. Exams or tests mainly consist of exercises. By making some exercises, you do not have enough insight. The more exercises you do, the easier everything is.
Think of it like building a house in the Sims. Do you remember the very first house you built? You can build it, but your first house wasn’t that nice : a living room that was much too big, no roofs, a flat garden without greenery, etc. It was nothing compared to what you’re making now. You gained insight and practiced. The same goes for math. The more you practice, the faster and easier it will be.
Solve the exercises, don’t read
Solve the problem step by step. During the process, think about how you will arrive at the correct answer. Don’t just read the exercises to see how they achieve the answer. Saying “Oh yes, I know how to do that!” is not good enough. Understanding how to solve something and actually solving it are two different things . Only if you make your own exercises, you will discover where you get stuck, where you would use a different method, when you remove the parentheses, etc. You cannot improve yourself if you do not get started yourself.
Tip: Short of time? Then you can take the extra exercises written out and see which steps they take. Pay attention! This only works if you have already made some exercises yourself.
4. Call for help
Mathematics on YouTube and blogs
The internet is full of math! By having the theory explained in a different way , you gain more insight . There are many websites where teachers explain mathematical matters in a fun way. For example, take a look at our page full of math blogs with a fun twist . Also, don’t forget YouTube when you’re looking for math explanations. BijlesHuis developed a series of math videos where we explain some topics in a fun way.
Tip: Are you good at English? Then try looking up the subject in English. The number of search results is much larger.
Online explainer videos and blogs are a great resource, but they don’t answer everything. Especially with individual questions, this is not of much use. Have you been struggling with math for some time and is it getting harder and harder? Then math tutoring is a good solution. A weekly appointment with a tutor works wonders because he or she looks at your underlying problem . You pay extra attention to the subjects on which you get stuck, and your understanding and self-confidence in mathematics grows.