How to Learn Math (the Right Way)
Ok, if you've found yourself here, then you are probably confused, desperate, and frustrated. You're wondering why you are not successful in math when others are. You've been traumatized with repeated failures when less intelligent people manage to coast by.
Maybe you are in a situation where you are returning to education after a long absence, or you need to pass a placement exam or test for work or you simply need to pass the next test. In any event, you are scared to death and searching on the internet for some help.
I can't promise you that you've found help here, but I can promise you that there is nothing wrong with you and that your math phobia is just that, a phobia. It's something you need to get over....put the past behind you and start fresh. It can be done (really).
1. Give yourself time!
If you are taking the GRE for example, give yourself plenty of time to study. You may think that a month sounds like a long time but it's really not. A test like this covers years of high school and college math....give yourself several months to study. A major exam takes practice so leave yourself room to do that. Smaller tests and quizzes take less time but don't underestimate the time it takes to practice.
2. Start at the beginning.
Don't start where you think you should be, start where you are. If you think you are unsure about adding fractions, don't assume you "sort of know it" and plow ahead. That is a recipe for disaster, I promise you. Math builds strongly on prior skills learned so don't be embarrassed to cover material that you think you should already know. Swallow your pride a bit and start at your "starting place".
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
If you are struggling, that is a sign that you need to do more work, not less. Do problems from your study material that weren't assigned to you. Go to the web for additional problems. Practice until it is routine! This is sometimes the hardest thing for a student to do, especially when there are other classes and a life to lead but believe me, it is critically important. Additional work is required if math isn't your strong point.
4. Forget the Past
Forget that you are not good at math. Forget that you failed that class. Forget that you were scared to be called on. It's over and you can change it. This is the hardest thing for me to teach to a student but it's so important. You can do this! You will do it! A positive attitude and an open mind will take you far.
5. Get Some Help
If you can afford it, one of the best things you can do is hire a competent tutor. Rates will vary but you usually get what you pay for. The cheaper tutors generally have the least experience. And don't be swayed by a fancy math degree...it doesn't mean they can teach. Not everyone can afford a private tutor or coach, so check with your school for some less expensive options. Sometimes all you need is a helping hand to build your confidence and lead you in the right direction!
Finally, relax and try to have some fun with it! Good luck to you!