Tips for Learning Math

Many students have trouble with math. Often, this is because they approach learning math in the same way they learn history. That is, they try to memorize a lot of facts. While certain facts are important to know, math is really about relationships and process. It is more important to memorize the rules than it is to memorize any given result.

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If you teach a man that 2+2=4, you have told him how to solve one problem. If you teach a man that "the number of apples you start with" + "the number of apples you add" = "the number of apples you have if you put them all together", you have taught him how to add. The same is basically true for all subjects in math. The important thing is "how does it work?" not "what is the answer?" in any given case.

All math is a process whereby you take a set of facts and come to a conclusion by applying one or more rules. Algebra is the process of solving equations to find the values of variables by applying a set of rules. To learn Algebra, you learn the rules. If you know the rules, you can apply them to any Algebra problem and get the correct answer. If you try to memorize the answers to certain Algebra problems, you will soon be swamped with too much data and will be doomed to failure.

Processes and rules are best learned with practice. At every step in learning math, there are examples and problems. Always understand all the examples and do as many of the problems as you can (even more than required for homework).

Also important in learning math is to pay attention to definitions. It is essential to know that the radius of a circle is the distance from the center to the edge. In other words, the term "radius" stands for a particular number which is either given or can be measured in any particular case. If you confuse this concept with the concept of "diameter" which means the distance from one edge to the opposite edge, you will make mistakes. So, it is important to memorize what each term means.

Finally, math must be learned in sequence. Each math concept builds on the concepts that came before it. You will have a very difficult time learning Calculus if you do not already understand Algebra and Geometry. Any time you have trouble with a particular math concept or rule, get help and clear it up before attempting to go on to the next topic. If you don't, the next topic will probably not mean anything to you.

This is where a Plano tutor can be most helpful. A Plano tutor can correct any misunderstanding you have, before it leads to massive confusion.

In summary, learning math means learning the processes and rules, plus memorizing the definitions, and doing so in the proper sequence (usually as presented in a course or book). This means not skipping ahead and not glossing over a topic you didn't fully understand. Get help, perhaps from a Plano tutor, if anything is confusing to you before attempting to go further. If you do these things, learning math will be a piece of cake.

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