How to Learn Math Fast

by blackspanielgallery

There is a way to help your child, or yourself, learn math. It is possible to build confidence in your child by properly studying math. We learn math differently. Learn how.

First, I must say that in the United States we use math for mathematics, but in the rest of the English speaking world it is maths. So, as we address the idea of how to learn math fast, another might query how to learn maths easily. If you say maths, please mentally add the s.

I will address why people have difficulty when they try to learn math, and offer some insights into what can be done to make the study of math easy, or at least easier.

What I will reveal here will work at learning arithmetic, learning algebra, or learning whatever level of math you are currently studying, or have a child studying.

Why Do People Have Difficulty Learning Math?

Where Does the Problem of Math Anxiety Originate?

The problem, like many difficulties we encounter, comes from not believing in one’s own ability.  This can come from previous difficulties learning math, or from a person, even from a teacher, who instills a fear of math in you, or in your child.


It is not a matter of just saying to yourself I will succeed at math, you must believe it.  Herein lies he challenge, but it is easily met.


First, we must explore the right way to study math.  Believing you will succeed at math requires proper studying of math.

How to Study Math

How Math Is Different

For many subjects we learn by reading with comprehension, and a certain amount of memorization.  As the grade level increases cognitive skills should be the focus, and much of memorization go by the wayside.  But, reading a math book is not enough.  First, we must understand the concepts, and give adequate thought when reading them.  But, the examples can be even more important.  With math, we must understand what we can do to solve a problem, and pick the right steps in the right order to get to a solution. 


I have seen too many students say a problem is not like the examples.  Well, the examples are to help get an insight into problem solving, not to be matched exactly.  Trying to match examples can lead to frustration, and this destroys confidence.  Instead, look at what can be done to get to the solution, and implement the steps.


The key word in studying math, from studying arithmetic through studying college math, is practice.  There is an art to practice.  If your textbook has answers only to odd numbered problems, try only odd numbered problems.  Check each answer before going on.  Working even numbered problems, if done wrong, reinforces the wrong technique.  That would be counterproductive.


No one has time to try every problem.  Notice the problems are grouped.  If you encounter a problem that you do not understand, look at the corresponding example carefully and see if you can correct the problem.  If after a reasonable effort you still have problems, ask in class or ask a tutor.  There are online tutors available for help.  But be cautioned, asking before really trying might bring an answer, but will you really grasp it?  That can bring a false sense of security.  After really looking at the problem things will click better when you get the explanation.


After getting a problem cleared up, try others like it.  You need to practice the types of math problems you do not understand, not those you have no difficulty with.  Make math fit your life and reduce exhaustion and resentment.


How Do I Get a Positive Attitude and Believe I Can Learn Math?

How Can I Instill in My Child a Positive Attitude about Learning Math?

The way to get a positive attitude is with success.  Notice at the back of the chapter in most math books you will find a chapter review and a chapter test.  After you finish reading the chapter of the book carefully, and have looked at the examples in detail, practiced and gotten help with those types of math problems you did not understand, try the review, the chapter test, or both.


Now, once you successfully complete one of the back of the chapter problem sets, check your answers.  Notice when there is no pressure and you have properly prepared the success with math will follow.  But, even more important you now have the question you need to ask to obtain confidence when taking a test in class.  If I can answer the questions correctly when I practice, should not I be able to have the same success when taking a test?  Of course the answer is yes, and now you have a way of having a positive attitude that will cause you to believe in yourself.


Study Math by Working Harder Problems

Challenge Yourself with Math

I once took karate.  One day the instructor said “Never kick at your opponent’s face.”  The reason was there are too many ways of getting the face out of the way.  But we always practiced kicking face high.  One student asked why this was so, for we ached after kicking so high.  The answer was, “Always practice two levels higher than what you need.  That is the gray area.  Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is wrong.  Then, when you need the technique two levels lower, it is perfect.  And this applies to many things, including studying math.  Practice beyond the problems you will be tested on, if possible.  Then you will have no difficulty when tested.


As a side note, when you learn something for some course it might apply to another course equally well.  Always be open to applying things even if learned in another field.  Here a karate lesson can be applied to math.

Taking a Math Test Properly

There Is a Best Method for Taking a Math Test

As a college mathematics professor I can assure you I can control the grades with the test, to a certain extent, while using the same problems.  If I put a very hard problem first, many students will miss it, and worse, will keep fretting over it throughout the test.  They will then be distracted when looking at the easier questions, and no longer be confident.   This can result in several careless errors, because the student lacked confidence and kept thinking about that hard first problem.  And if too much time is spent dwelling on that problem the rest of the test will be rushed.


If I place the one hard problem last on a test, many students will answer the rest of the test with growing confidence, and without distraction.  In the end many will be so confident and relaxed they might have a chance at even the hard problem.


While you cannot rewrite your tests, you can discipline yourself to quickly pass over a hard problem, and not think about it during the test.  Then, after answering the rest of the problems you might very well come back to it and successfully answer it too.


How to Study Math Successfully

How to Learn Math Fast

First read the material.  Concentrate with care on the examples.  Practice only odd problems, and always check the answers before moving on. Look back for those you do not get, and after adequate effort ask for help with them.  Practice more of the type of problems where you have difficulty.   Use the back of the chapter material to gain confidence.  Skip over the difficult problems, and put them out of your mind until you finish the rest of the problems on a test.


It is all about believing in yourself, but you do this with success when working the end of the chapter material, and keep it by not allowing a hard problem frustrate you or waste your time when being tested.

Books on Conquering the Fear of Math Can Help

Some People Call This Overcoming Math Anxiety

I require developmental classes, people in college but working at the high school level in math, to check a book on overcoming math anxiety out of the library and read it.  They must then prove they read the book by writing a short book review. 


I have found the books on overcoming math anxiety can be grouped into two groups, those that help and those that hinder your success with math.  Some years back I got a grant, and added several books on overcoming math anxiety to the college’s library.  I had no idea of the quality of these books when I ordered them.  Some are quite good, and offer insight into building a workable technique to study math better.  The others were written by people who themselves had a struggle with math, and it soon became obvious these authors were looking for an outlet to express their frustration, with no clue themselves on how to study math properly.  They seemed to want people to commiserate with them.  These usually start with comments about an arithmetic teacher who caused them to have problems with arithmetic, and that problem was allowed to fester for years with no resolution.  Before giving your child a book on how to properly study math, check which class the book falls into, and if it is the latter get another book before passing it to your child.

This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


The introduction image is because it is my book.  Actually, in this case I authored the book shown.

Updated: 08/06/2019, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 07/20/2017

no, I have not.

DerdriuMarriner on 07/20/2017

blackspanielgallery, Have you seen "The Man Who Knew Infinity" about Srinivasa Ramanujan's mathematical intuition untethered by procedures and proofs?

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