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What is the best way to study Math and understand it

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3 Answers

First of all, you don't have to memorize mathematical statements and concepts - this is a brain killing stategy.

You have to try to derive these statements (expressions, equations, formulas) yoursefl, as a result of your own discovery.

Since you are studying college math I am advising you to repeat some topics from lower-level math courses.(do it alongside with your current studies). Keep in mind that mathematics is an axiomatic science - we take for granted only a few basic staements validated by our life experience but not by logical proof. All other statments can be derived from them. There are axioms of arithmetics (Peano's axioms), there are geometry axioms (Euclid's axioms). I am advising you to:

1. Review commutative, distributive and associative properties of addition and multiplication operations.

2. Keep in mind: to subtract in matn means to add the opposite (negative) number (or element). To divide in math means to multiply a given number (or expression) by the reciprocal of the divisor.

3. Apply these rules to evaluate algebraic expressions. It helps in developing practical skills how to order operations. Include negative terms in parenthesis to avoid confusion with signs (it happens often times).

4. When you learn math concept or equation, try to repeat the described procedures step by step. It helps to follow the logical process and teaches the way of thinkling as well as operational skills.

5. Work on word problems to learn how the word statements can be converted into mathematical statements (formulas, expressions, equations, inequalities and their systems). The lack of word problems in all math programs from elementary to high school level is the one of biggest disadvatnages in math education as well as the lack of proofs of theorems in algebra and geometry courses.

If you have any other questions, let us know. Bring your problems (that you are working on) to this site, so we can be more specific in our assistance. When topics are specified it is easier to develop appropriate strategies that will target particular skills. I wish you all the best and see you again.

These are great.  

One thing you might try while reviewing your previous math courses is to draw a number line.  Use your fingers to point to different positions and move your fingers to represent the steps that you write down in algebra.  

It's easy to memorize enough "tricks" (i.e. cancel this and that) to get a B-/C+ in algebra without actually understanding what you are doing in a way that prepares you for more advanced math and science courses.  Constantly ask yourself whether you can visually illustrate what you mean by your equations.  

I have had a lifelong difficulty with mathematics, which ironically has helped me with several of my struggling students.  I now wish I could do a bit more math, because I can sure explain to kids where they are getting lost.  People generally fall into two rough categories – math folks and literature folks.

Here’s a few things that struggling math students should keep in mind (especially if you are a WORD person, instead of a NUMBERS person) :

1) Usually people who are GOOD at math are the ones teaching it.  They often don’t see where the struggle lies for the student, and the student often can’t really identify their specific question.  It’s usually…”I don’t get it.”

The more you are able to pinpoint where in the process your issues are, the quicker you will receive assistance.

2)  Learn the math vocabulary that goes with the lesson.  Words like “quotient, denominator, function, factor, equivalent” mean something.  Many struggling students get lost because as the instructor is demonstrating HOW to solve a problem (which many seem pretty doable to the passive observer) there is an accompanying explanation using words that seem like gibberish. 

3)  Math is a LANGUAGE (refer to #2).  The endless scrawl of numbers and symbols are telling a story about SOMETHING.  Most good math teachers introduce that part (briefly) at the beginning of their lessons, it’s just us word people miss it, or don’t make the connection as we are solving the problems.

I’m not a person who can blindly follow a direction if I don’t know where I am going.  It just doesn’t make sense for me, so I can’t orient myself.  Therefore, I’m also not the person who can be told, “Just work the formula.  If you plug in the numbers, you can solve the problem.”  Uhhh…no I can’t.

So therefore…

4) Try getting an overview about WHAT you are doing, so that the procedure about doing it actually makes a bit more sense.  It also increases the likelihood that you will know where and when you  became lost in class. 

Here are some great websites that help with this issue:

http://www.mathwords.com/

http://www.mathsisfun.com/

http://www.algebra.com/

5)  Strengthen your basic skills.  I had a horrible time learning long division in 4th grade. 

Well, looking back, part of the problem was that I really didn’t know my multiplication facts (3rd grade).  That was because I was weak with skip counting and basic fact families (2nd grade).  I was still struggling with adequate basic operations skills well into pre-algebra.

Try:  www.IXL.com  for help with this.

Remember:  Each level of math is built upon the one prior.  You may have to go back in order to go forward.

HOPE THIS HELPS !!