Math Help
Effective Math Study Skills:

 Effective Math Study Skills: The Fuel of Excellence
Lecture Link
How Good Are Your Study Skills?

My Personal Math Study Skills Inventory: Exercise 8-1

This inventory will help you assess the effectiveness of your math study skills. Read each of the statements carefully and determine how frequently each applies to you.
Statement Usually (3 points) Sometimes (2 points) Rarely (1 point)
1. I attend all my math classes.      
2. I read my math assignment before attending class.      
3. In class, I mentally follow all explanations, trying to understand concepts and principles.      
4. In class, I write down main points, steps in explanations, definitions, examples, solutions, and proofs.      
5. I review my class notes as soon after class as possible.      
6. I review my class notes again six to eight hours later, or definitely the same day.      
7. I do weekly and monthly reviews of all my class and textbook notes.      
8. In reviewing, I use all methods such as reciting aloud, writing, picturing the material, etc.      
9. I study math before other subjects, and when I'm most alert.      
10. I take small breaks every 20 to 40 minutes when I study math.      
11. I work to complete my difficult math assignments in several small blocks of time.      
12. I reward myself for having studied and concentrated.      
13. I survey my assigned math readings before I tackle them in depth.      
14. When I read, I say aloud and write out important points.      
15. I underline, outline, or label the key procedures, concepts, and formulas in my text.      
16. I take notes on my text and review them often.      
17. I complete all assignments and keep up with my math class.      
18. I study math two hours per day. at least five days a week.      
19. I work on at least ten new problems and five review problems during each study session.      
20. I work to "overlearn" and thoroughly master my material.      
21. I retest myself often to fix ideas in memory.      
22. I work to understand all formulas, terms, rules, and principles before I memorize them.      
23. I use a variety of checking procedures when solving math problems.      
24. I study with two or more different math books or resource material      

To find your total score, add up the total points of all three columns:

My Grand Total is: __________
If your score is above 68 points, you have excellent math study skills.
If your score is between 54 and 68 points, you have fair study skills, but you need to improve.
If your score is below 54 points, you have poor math study skills and you need help immediately.

Here is what you can do to improve your math study skills:

How Do You Approach Learning?

Personal Growth Model of Learning: Learning is an active process: we can understand how we think, create and retain new information. We must understand the memory process and strategies to enhance recall. We must look at the uniqueness of our subject matter and identify how best to approach each new area of knowledge.

Selecting A Math  Class

Consider the following when selecting a math class: (1) Correct placement, (2) When you last took math, (3) Auditing or repeating a math class, and (4) Selecting a good teacher.

Notes: If you haven taken math in 3 years, you should repeat the last math course you successfully completed.
Consider auditing to familiarize yourself with materials - plan to participate by attending all classes, doing homework and taking all tests.

Teacher Selection: Satisfaction Guaranteed

Great teachers can make all the difference - so ask around to find out about likes and dislikes of certain teachers.
A great teacher explains concepts well; teaches according to your learning style, welcome questions before, during, and after class; has office hours for outside help; has a positive toward students; and gives fair tests.

Ask if teacher teaches more than one section of the math course you plan to take and ask if you can sit in on a section you have missed at a different time.

Attend All Classes

Successful students are more likely to attend all classes, whereas failing students miss one-third or more of their classes.
Missing even one class may actually put you back 2 lectures because you may feel lost the session you return to class.
If you must miss, be sure to read the assigned text thoroughly, do homework, and get a copy of the class notes from a classmate (do this before the class after that missed)

Be Bold: Sit Near The Front

Successful students are also more likely to sit close to the front of the classroom and near the center.
Siting near front you are more likely to pay attention and concentrate on lecture.
It also helps you to be more involve in class, give you more direct contact with teacher and see the board more easily.
Those who sit in the back are not only physically distant from the lecturer but also psychologically and it is more easier to get distracted by sounds or side discussions going on in the back of the room.

Take Full Class Notes

Your class notes and text notes are like your math bible.
They are the essence of what you are learning
Studies show that successful students take notes of about 64% of what is presented. - Complete notes
Write down what teacher puts on the blackboard and all verbal explanations.
Write down important ideas, equations, examples, helpful hints, and suggestions.
Strive to follow and understand teacher's reasoning and logic when solving a board problem
Note steps in solutions instructor explains but not necessarily write on board.
Ask instructor to repeat anything you miss or don't understand.
Make notes legible, neat and clear so you can read them easily later.
Be an active listener (you think faster than teacher can write - avoid turning out)
Organize your notes, homework solution so can identify definitions, theorems, proofs, formulas, procedure steps, examples or equations.

Questions That Count; Answers that Add Up

You have the right to ask questions of your teacher before, during, and after class.
See your instructor during office hours or visit the Math Lab.
Never avoid asking questions because you are afraid of looking stupid.
Be creative and design your own questions that cover concepts explain in class.
Never allow your questions to go unanswered, take the initiative.

Capitalize on the Magic of "Now"

It is typical to understand material in class and have no clues when studying a few days later because:
We forget immediately a large portion of the lecture after a few hours.

Review immediately after learning and then again eight hours later

Review needs about 10 to 15 minutes - since you already know the material.
Do homework immediately after assigned
Do weekly and monthly reviews of your notes to embed new information in memory

Why Review? - 20 minutes after learning we forget nearly 50% of what's learned and after a day nearly two-thirds is forgotten, after  2 days 69% is lost, in 15 days, 75% and in 31 days, 78%. So after a month you remember only 22% of material learned. (Hermann Ebbinghaus, The German psychologist)

Study on retention of meaningful material by H. F. Spitzer found that students who reviewed the material immediately after learning and then did periodic reviews were able to retain almost 80% of the material after two months.

It takes between 4 seconds and 15 minutes for memory trace to set in - and avoid interruption of retention by not learning or doing something else. Review materials promptly and capitalize on the magic of now!

The Birth of Excellence: Say and Do

Fully involved the math learning process by using all your senses:

Recite the material aloud
Explain it to others
Here it, see it, write it down; work with it; manipulate it in as many ways possible;
Work out as many problems as you can.
Magnesen in 1983 reported that students tend to remember a full 90% of what they "do and say".

Take both class notes and your reading assignment notes.

Studies show that students remember 70% of what the explain aloud to themselves or others (often your math tutor learn and remember more than you - try restating concepts grasp while being tutor to reinforce remembering.


Do homework the same day they are assigned or same day when the concept are taught in class.

Problem Solving

Read homework problems carefully, at least two to three times.
Do you understand it and can you restate it in your own words?
Try and locate simpler problems that are similar to each problem
Make tables, illustrations, diagrams and so on.
Estimate the answer and decide the operations that have to be done.
Do the necessary calculations and check steps from start to finish.

The Ten Commandments of Work Checking

Most students lose points on homework and test because of simple computational errors, not because of a lack of understanding.

Get into the habit of checking all your homework problems as if your were taking a test. It is a good practice for the real test.
Use the following Guidelines for checking your work:

1. Ask, does your answer make sense? Is it reasonable?
2. Does your answer fit your estimate?
3. Recalculate. Recheck your math computations.
4. Do your problems twice  - check for errors.
5. Check your usage of signs.
6. Check your decimal points.
7. Recheck your writing - when you work out problems on scrap paper, 
did you transfer them correctly to the answer sheet?
8. Check your exponents. Are you handling exponents correctly?
9. Reread visual: Charts, tables, figures, or graphs.
10. Substitute your answer. Does your answer satisfy the given conditions of the problem?
Take the answer you get and substitute it for the unknown quantity in the problem.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As a rule of thumb, work out at least ten problems per study session and review 
at least five problems from previous study sessions. Your proficiency in solving math problems increases with practice.
Study math at least 5 day each week.

Overlearn Your Math

Get to know the concepts inside out - since new math concepts often build upon previous ones; you must firmly establish the principles and concepts you are learning for the knowledge to come later.

Constantly test and retest yourself on the material absorb - learn to recognize your material no matter the order in which it is presented to you on a test, no matter how difficult it seems or how it is discussed.

Follow Your Alertness Cycles

Study math at times of day when you are most alert and usually before other subjects.

Take Breaks

Studies show distinct benefits of distributed practice - short study sessions interspersed with rest breaks.
Recommend study sessions be between 20 and 40 minutes with 5 to 10 minutes breaks.
This regimen prevents mental, physical, and emotional fatigue and keeps your motivation high.

Stop Procrastination - Do it Now!

If you are a procrastinator it is time to take Super Action:

Part 1: keep taking little bites - you don't have to do it all at once - schedule time to work assignments in small chucks
Part 2: Reward Yourself for Good Study and Concentration (e.g. snacks, phone conversation, movie, exercise)
Part 3: Use a Kitchen Timer - Use a timer to control your study time
Part 4: Change your inner self talk - Apply Super Action Self talk: example below

Procrastination Self-Talk Super Action Self-Talk
1. I don't know where to start. I'll divide my assignment into small chunks and work on only one chunk at a time.
2. I don't know how to do it. I'll look up the information in other math books or online resources and see how they explain it. I'm bound to get it!
3. I'll wait until I can ask the teacher in class. I'll work on some of it now and then I'll have better questions to ask.
4. I'm just not in the mood to do it. Do it now! Just do it!
5. Oh, I still have time; I can wait until later. Time has a way of running out quickly; get it over with now!
6. There's just too much to do. Take one step at a time; Rome wasn't build in a day.
7. I feel bad, but I keep wanting to put this off. If I do even a little bit of work on this, I know I'll feel better.
8. I prefer doing my favorite subject first. I can always do math later. Once I get into my math. it'll begin to be more enjoyable and fun.
9. (add your own) (add your own)

Tackle your Math Book

Read your math book, it often supports what is being taught in class.

Read the Chapter Before and After Class

Make it a practice to read the assignment chapter before you attend math class.
You become a better listener and learn more from class.
After attending class read your assignments in depth, and then do your homework - this will increase your understanding

How to read Your Math Text

Math reading assignments should be tackled at least 3 times:

1. Survey your assignment (when you survey, read the lead paragraphs, the first sentence of each paragraphs throughout the section, and the closing or summary paragraphs. read all highlighted areas, tips, subtitles, illustrations, charts, and graphs). I you do this pose questions that you think the material may answer of class instructor.

2.  Read all sections in depth for mastery and understanding, and mark and underline in your book.
Unlike other subjects matter math requires more concentration where every word is important.
Most math text are written succinctly and to the point.
Text must be read slowly and with good concentration.
Rereading concepts several times help with mastery. 
Don't skip pictures, they often says a thousand words.
Write and recite as you read. 

3. Third reading is for review and taking notes. Write down all import ideas, facts, equations, theorems, examples, 
and summaries in your notebook or on index cards..

Memorize terms, Rules, Principles, Formulas

To memorize a  rule or principle, first read it and make sure you completely understand every part of it.
Sometime you may have to commit to memory difficult concepts you do not understand.

Use two or More Math Books

Use two or more math texts when studying.

Taken from the book:
Arem, PhD., Cynthia A., Conquering Math Anxiety: A Self-Help Workbook, Ca: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, p158, ISBN 0-534-18876-1


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