The essential guide to mastering maths

Prienderen Moodley By Prienderen Moodley, 6th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

This page contains strategies, advice and help and general tips on how to get the assistance needed to improve your maths grade, and how to use that assistance effectively and to your advantage taking into account your unique needs.

Achieving your best in maths

Many of us shudder every time the word maths is uttered, but here are some tips and advice as to how lessen and eventually turn that tension and stress and worry you feel towards the subject into relief and later on even excitement.

(1) Decide how badly you want to improve

In order for any tips or advice to pan out you must really want the change. Let's be honest - how much you want it will determine how far you will be willing to go in order to achieve better results. This can lead to you putting in,not only the required effort needed to do better, but also much more than that. Nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough. Your commitment and drive is crucial to success at the end of the day. Remember that gaining more knowledge makes you a wiser person and it helps you grow as a person

(2) Be patient and persevere

No matter how slow or fast a learner you are, patience and perseverance is essential.
Maths is not a subject in which all the examples are easily understood and worked out.
Rest assured that, especially when the exams and tests are far away, there is no time limit, so it does not matter how long it takes you to understand and solve a problem - what matters is that you do solve it in the end, and that you understood how you arrived at the answer. Perseverance works hand in hand with patience because without patience you cannot persevere. Whatever the situation or the example, donot quit - if you quit there is no way that you can improve. Even if you learn one thing about a concept of maths it's still learning and it still is improving. Take for example the follwing maths example: x + 5 = 0, even if you just learn that in order to solve for x we need to take the +5 to the other side of the equation and change it to a -5, that is still learning and improving because you have now understood the first step to solving the problem and you would have more knowledge than before you started to tackle the problem.

(3) Schedule times that you are comfortable with

Most of you youth today have really hectic schedules - an overflowing social life, sports, family activities, religious events, personal activities and much more. That is what makes you who you are. By all means you donot have to give up all these activities because you want to focus on maths. It is up ito you because it depends on how important these events are to you, and if they are things that you enjoy doing and are extremely passionate and excited about then I advise you not to give uo these activities. The reason is that you may start to resent maths somewhere down the line and you may feel that maths is getting in the way of things that you really enjoy doing and that is not fair to you and you may become frustrated and a very unhappy and unsatisfied person. You may later on quit maths because you question yourself as to why you should be devoting so much time to something that you don't really like (maths) when you could be out enjoying yourself. Instead look at your schedule carefully and find some time in between your activities to fit in times in which you can allocate to working on your maths and even your other subjects.

(4) Start with the basics and start early

Very little can be achieved without first mastering the basics. This is because other concepts and examples are based on these basics or fundamentals. Take for example addition is crucial to understand in order to solve word problems involving addition. Addition is the basics and the word problems depend on your knowledge of addition. remember that you can't build a house with a weak foundation and you certainly can't build a house without any foundation at all. Try also to start early on in the year as this is period in which you have the most time available to you since there are no pending tests, exams, school and class activities. I would advise you to start from as early as grade 8 if you are serious about achieving your best in maths because the fundamentals to high school maths start in grade 8 and grade 9 is dependent on grade 8 and grade 10 depends on a sound knowledge of grade 9 maths and so on until grade 12. This means that if your grade 8 maths is solid that will increase your chances of doing well in grade 9 and if your grade 9 maths is solid then that will increase your chances of doing well in grade 10 and so on. It is possible to turn your maths mark around in grade 12 even if your previous grades weren't solid, however it would make life for you and your teacher or tutor very difficult as this would mean you would have to cover the gaps of the previous years as well as your grade 12 maths in a very short space of time. Bear in mind that grade 11 is a very crucial year because grade 12 is majority grade 11 work, so please make sure your knowledge is solid.

(4) Take it a step at a time and slow down

Each step for each example has logic to it and can and must be understood in order to get to and understand the next step. It may be useful to look at an example step by step and try to understand it that way rather than taking a look at the entire example - this will ensure that you don't become overwhelmed with too much information, especially when the question is challenging to understand and the solution is long and extremely complex. Slow down to a pace that you are comfortable with and that enables you to grasp and retain what you are meant to be learning - it's no use covering lots of content but understanding and learning very little. I would advise to go slower and learn solidly rather than rushing to finish and still not being any better for the experience. If you do rush and you don't learn much you may regard it as wasteful and quit because you may feel that you have tried to achieve better results and you have come up short and you may end up thinking "why should I carry on, I should just give up now instead of harbouring false hope that I could improve". Give yourself a chance and focus on quality of learning instead of quantity of learning - you can't learn everything in one day, so whatever amount of learning you do do might as well be quality learning. Later on as you understand the concepts better you can increase the pace a little, but again, please be careful you donot go too fast.

(5) Use self-praise to good effect

We all need a good pat on the back every now and then, especially when we are trying to work at something that we don't really understand or like. This is why you should praise yourself for everything you get right, even if it's something small. It will make you feel a lot better about yourself - your mood will be better and will feel like continuing with the learning process. Everytime you attempt something you will remember the feeling you got when you praised yourself, so you will work really hard to achieve so that you could continue praising yourself.

(6) Don't be hard on yourself for mistakes

Got something wrong? Yes, of course you don't feel good about it. Don't beat yourself up about it. The road is long and you are going to experience bumps along the way. Simply look at your mistakes as a chance to learn and thus become wiser and more knowledgable and grow as a person. If you make a mistake learn from it and practise similar examples repeatedly until you've corrected the mistake. Remember that beating yourself up isn't going to make the situation any better but instead it could demotivate you and may prevent you from trying again and this will stop learning from taking place. It is not how hard you fall but how much better and stronger you are when you pick yourself up.

(7) Take into consideration your uniqueness

Each one of us is unique. We have unique ways of thinking, unique personalities, unique characters, unique needs and wants. Different things and experiences motivate us, for example, some of us are motivated by the thought of making money, some of us are motivated by the thought of going out and having a meal out and so on. You and whovever teaches or tutors you need to be sensitive to your unique needs. For example if you can only concentrate for 2 to 3 hours at a time it makes no sense at all to schedule a tuition period of more than 3 hours - you would become drained and may lose all the information and knowledge you should have retained during that period of time.

(8) Keep a watchful eye on the future

Just remember that no matter what motivates you, a better maths mark will help you to get whatever it is that you dream to have, it is the first step to a bright future. The better your marks is this year the better your maths mark will look whenever you finish matric and the better your chances are of getting into university.

(9) Know when to ask for help

We need to be honest with ourselves and come to the realisation that we can't do everything ourselves. There is a fine line between working independently healthily on some things and trying to solve everything by yourself just to prove you can be successful. Bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with admitting or acknowledging that you are unable to solve a problem. If you don't ask then you won't learn. Nobody knows everything, not even the professors and experts - even they are not prefect, even they can learn so what I'm saying here is that there is no limit to learning.

(10) Do not become complacent

Okay, so you've worked your socks off and you are now achieveing excellent results. So now you start to ease off a bit and start taking things for granted, either because you feel you are achieving so no more effort is needed to do well and or in order to save the tutor fees that you are coughing up, but please guear against this. One of the biggest enemies of maintaining a good mark is complacency. Complacency causes us to "slack off" which means we reduce the amount of effort we put in. This in turn results in rustiness and that in turn leads to performance detreiorating and at the end that would lead to lower marks. Even if you feel you are good at your maths, choose some of the more challenging examples from each section and attempt them - this will keep you interested as well as occupied and will challenge you to new heights. It will also prevent rustiness and will also help you realise that no matter how much you know there will always be examples that you find very challenging and not that easy to understand and or solve.

(10) Choose a tutor who believes in you

Be careful when choosing a tutor. Some of them are in it for the money only and hence will put in the minimum amount of work just to justify the fee that you pay. A tutor's intentions will also determine how much you learn and the quality of learning. Any tutor that believes in you and cares about you will obviously have your best interests at heart and will go that extra mile to help you achieve your best. Furthermore a tutor that believes in you will give you the necessary encouragement, support, motivation, inspiration, warmth, care and guidance in order for you to perform to the best of your ability. A tutor who isn't warm enough won't serve you at all, especially if you are not performing anywhere near your best and if your opinion of maths isn't the highest. The job of a tutor is to help bring out your best and to show you that you can perform better so that you start to believe in yourself and start to believe that you can achieve and also to help you get excited about your life, and I don't just mean about maths. Choose a tutor that will be genuinely proud of you for your achievements and be compassionate and understanding and will know the steps to take to remedy the situation if you donot achieve.

Lastly I would like to give you a few other words of advice. Keep a track of all your tests and exams so that your tutor can go through them with you and help you with the questions you found difficult, so that the next time that section is tested you will achieve much better results. Always look to improve no matter what mark you achieve. Even if you get 100%, your task would be to maintain that mark. For example if you get 50% for term one, challenge yourself to get 60% for term two and so forth.

Hope this article helps you and inspires you to give yourself a chance to perform at your best. Just a parting word: If you believe you can achieve it then you can, if you tell yourself you can't do it you are closing the road to learning and success it but if you tell yourself that you can do it then you are at least opening up the road.

Here are a few other articles that I have written that you may be interested in:-

In the deep end
The lover's guide to a healthier relationship
Lover's guide to a healthier relationship part 2
You leave me breathless


Better, Better Maths Grades, Guide, Guidelines, Mastering Maths, Maths, Maths Help, Maths Language, Strategic Decisions, Strategies, Strategy, Tips, Tips And Guidelines

Meet the author

author avatar Prienderen Moodley
Writing is about the heart, I want to touch peoples' hearts about something important like love. If something touches the heart, it makes it thought provoking.

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Peter
5th Jul 2013 (#)

quite lovely

Reply to this comment

author avatar Peter
5th Jul 2013 (#)

it quite an interesting site to know

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?