The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

Help in Studying for Math

Date: 08/17/99 at 23:54:57
From: Lisa
Subject: Help in studying for math.


My name is Lisa. I am currently enrolled in the 8th grade. I have 
almost always been smart in math, but recently within the past 2 years 
I have been doing terribly. I was wondering if you had any suggestions 
or comments that might help me out a little bit.


Date: 08/19/99 at 13:35:50
From: Doctor Jesse
Subject: Re: Help in studying for math.

Hi, Lisa. 

I'm very proud of you for taking a personal interest in improving your 
math grades. There is no doubt about it; math starts to get hard right 
around 7th and 8th grade, but you can do it. You just have to take it 
one homework assignment at a time. Here are some tips that might help 

- Ask a lot of questions. I know it can feel a little embarrassing 
sometimes, because asking a question means admitting that you don't 
understand something, but don't be embarrassed. Chances are that most 
of the class doesn't understand either, and that someone in the class 
is secretly thanking you for asking, so that they didn't have to. 
Sometimes when I feel too embarrassed to ask a question, I tell myself 
this: "It isn't my fault that I don't understand it; it's the 
teacher's fault for not explaining it well enough." And then I go 
ahead and ask that question. Keep asking questions until you get it... 
Later, you'll be glad you did.

- Don't fall behind in class! In math, especially in algebra, the 
lessons build on top of one another, so that if you sleep through 
September, you might be in real trouble come October... Try to be 
disciplined about doing your math homework, and pay attention in 
class. If you make a habit of these things, the class will seem 
generally easier.

- Get a "study buddy." Find someone in the class who cares as much 
about doing well in the class as you do. Make a habit of getting 
together to do your homework, or talking about the homework on the 
phone. Math can seem much less scary when you don't have to go it 
alone. In fact, when you and a friend are working together to solve 
problems, it can be kind of fun.

- Find an after-school tutor. This can be a paid tutor, or maybe some 
friend or family member who knows algebra fairly well. Don't wait 
until you are getting failing grades to find a tutor, but find one at 
the first sign of trouble. Many schools have a tutoring system in 
place, so ask your teacher about it. Some teachers will give out their 
home phone numbers or emails so you can call or write them when you 
are having trouble with your homework. Don't be afraid to take 
advantage of any available help.

- Prepare for tests. Make sure that you know what will be on each 
test, and practice those kinds of problems. Ask your teacher for a 
sample test. Study for the tests with your "study buddy." Get a good 
night's sleep before each test, too.

- Stay calm. Many people suffer from "math anxiety," where just 
thinking about math gets them feeling underconfident and nervous. This 
makes them put off studying and homework until it is too late. Don't 
let the math scare you, or make you feel bad. Math can be hard to 
learn, but you can do it. 

I hope those tips help you! There are also lots of good online 
resources, too. A great place to start looking is the Dr. Math 

or you might want to look in the Dr. Math archives, which can be found 

Good luck, Lisa, and please write us back if we can help you some 

- Doctor Jesse, The Math Forum   
Associated Topics:
Middle School About Math

Search the Dr. Math Library:

Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.