Math anxiety –an intense fear of your ability to do or understand math – can impact your ability to learn math, even though it is not an intellectual problem. Students with math anxiety may worry at just the thought of having to take a math test, be sure they are not “math-minded” and won’t understand the work or panic and forget everything they learned when it comes to taking a test.
Math is different than many other subjects, you must not only understand what you read but you must be able to apply that information to complete problems. In addition, you have to know what strategies, techniques and formulas to use in each problem. For students with math anxiety, this is often difficult, they may remember the formulas but not be able to apply them to the correct problem, not because of intellectual ability, but because of their fear.
The following tips may help you learn to control your math anxiety:
Understand that each math class is an extension of your previous math class. Math skills and concepts build on what was learned before. If you are struggling with understanding math concepts, such as fractions, take time to review basic math concepts and principles. You may be missing a basic understanding of arithmetic. Find a tutor, take a remedial course or ask your math teacher for extra help.
Make sure you are in the proper class. If you are in high school, talk with your guidance counselor about what courses are available and whether you would be better off in a different class. If you are in college, talk with your advisor to make sure you are in a class that matches your abilities. For many math classes, a previous class was a prerequisite; don’t try to take the class if you barely made it through the previous class, instead, take time to review or be tutored in the prerequisite until you understand the concepts. If you didn’t understand the prerequisite class, you are probably going to be lost in the more advanced class.
Ask questions. Being an active learner helps you learn, instead of sitting in class listening, ask questions to help you better understand concepts. Use resources such as the tutoring or resource center to make sure you understand all the concepts being taught.
Be prepared. Ask your teacher or professor for a syllabus so you will be aware of what is going to be taught at the next class. Read over the material ahead of time so you have a general understanding and can better follow along during the class.
Complete your homework. Although homework is not usually welcome, it does help to reinforce concepts learned during class and helps you remember what was taught. Skipping homework because “you can’t do it” or “won’t understand it” isn’t going to help in the long run. Take time to complete all the practice exercises to the best of your ability. Keep track of which ones you did incorrectly and ask for help so you understand how to do it correctly.