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*We’re excited to have Madison’s husband, Alex, guest post for us! 

Math class have you feeling like this?

Everyone has that math class that completely destroys your mind, grade, and life for however long you take it; Or maybe that’s just math in general for you. Either way, it seems like you’re trapped with no way out. Well, what if I told you that the reason you felt hopeless was because there were a few things that you weren’t aware of? Don’t believe me? Well here are a few things that have helped me to turn my math classes around and ultimately become a statistics major!

1. Go to Class

This one seems simple and trivial; I know. But believe it or not there are tons of people out there including myself that don’t follow this simple rule. Without going to class you miss crucial information from the professor, which will end up requiring you to put in triple the amount of hours come test time just in order to understand that concept that you missed.

In order to show this I’ve made a 100% credible graph that is definitely made by statistics that are not made up.


2. Study Efficiently

This all begins with taking good detailed notes even if that means sacrificing your hand bones. I know, it’s annoying but trust me, come study time this makes a huge difference in remembering how to do a certain type of problem or question. Instead of having to go into the professor’s notes online(if your professor posts them), you can just look in your notes and find out. Having concise and detailed notes will help you spend your time studying on the things you truly need to get a grasp of in a reasonable time.

Most college professors will give you previous tests from the class in order to prepare yourselves. This is a gold mine for what you need to study. Treat this less like a study guide and more like an outline of what to study. THEN, go and treat the practice exam as the exam. See how you do on it. If you do badly then you know where to study more. This is an extremely helpful tool that students don’t use properly often enough.

3. Use Online Resources

We’ve all been at that point where we’ve been studying something for hours and we don’t understand it. I’ve had this problem in my calculus classes many times. When this happens you need to stop and seek help. There are SO many resources out there but here are some that helped me the most!

  • Symbolab – This one is great for computational classes such as any College Algebra, Calculus, Matrix Theory, Differential Equations, etc; It has a system that can solve derivatives, matrices, integrals (double and triple too), it shows you all the steps to solve these and the best part. It costs NOTHING. Most sites such as Chegg and others will make you pay for the same thing you get with Symbolab
  • YouTube – This has probably crossed your mind but it can be extremely helpful to solve problems and explain concepts.
  • For one of the best Algebra and Calculus channels on youtube, check out PatrickJMT by clicking here, https://www.youtube.com/user/patrickJMT/videos
  • For one of the best out there at explaining almost anything is KhanAcademy!, He’ll answer your questions about physics, math, statistics and a whole lot more. Check him out here! https://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy/videos

4. Do Problems. Lots of Them.

This may be a shock to all of you flash card junkies out there but math is NOT your Anatomy class where you just memorize everything in the book. While this approach can work, most times it is a very inefficient way to learn mathematical concepts. The best way to pass your class is to truly understand the concepts and their usage in the real world. This is best done by DOING PROBLEMS. Lots of them. This is also one of the best ways to study. Work on every type of problem you might see on the test until you understand it even with different forms and numbers in front of you. Remember those pesky little multiplication tables that were crammed into our heads in fourth grade?? Yup! Same idea here.

5. Put in The Time… Right

Please please please. Don’t study for 12 hours in an all nighter before your exam. This will hurt your more than help you. It is MUCH better to study for 4 hours per night for the three days leading up to your exam. It relieves the stress of preparing under a deadline as well as allowing your mind to put these concepts into its long-term memory which is only possible when you’re getting good sleep. AND it keeps you from looking like this on the day of your exam…

Putting in the time right means yes. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. This can make a HUGE difference with information sinking into your brain. If you subject your mind to bits of homework each week, the cumulative effect is astonishing.

6. Find a Good Location to Study

Do you ever find yourself trying to study but for some reason you’re surrounded by bright yellow flowers and just can’t escape the sheer distraction?

Yeah, me neither; but it has become very apparent to me that this generation(including me), is VERY bad at staying focused. This is exceptionally true for me and studying. I’ve found that I study best when I remove myself from my home and go to the library or campus study area. This makes it much less tempting to play Xbox, snack all day, or watch Netflix.

Having a study partner in whatever place you decide to study can be very helpful. Being able to discuss how and why to do certain concepts helps information sink in that much better.

7. Music, or No?

I’ve also found that with subjects like English and Writing, music helps me be more creative and focused; However, with math it does NOT help my focus. I find that I process the information and calculations I’m computing much better without music.

8. Understand

We’ve all been there; once your semester is over, all of the information you so desperately tried to remember with those all nighters, flashcards, exams, and google searches just gets thrown out the window and you’re lucky if you remember one single thing long-term. This is not the purpose of school. School is meant for us to learn, and to truly learn we must understand. Understanding means doing whatever you need to do in order to know why the things in your classes are important. The best way to do this that I’ve found is going to office hours, asking questions, and becoming acquainted with your professors. This allows you to ask questions like, “When will I actually use this?” because if your major is Statistics, you’ll likely use Calculus in a much different manner than a Mechanical Engineer. However math, more often than not is far more applicable than it seems to be while we’re studying hours upon hours. This is the most important thing to understand as a student. You need to understand what you’re learning, and I hope through these tips and tricks it will help you understand what you’re learning just a little bit more!

-Alex

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