How to understand mathematics: learn some tested and trusted techniques that will help you learn and master math easily.
Math is not hard. Oftentimes it is people’s approach to mathematics that makes it seem like it is a tough subject and difficult to grasp.
If you are such a student or individual who thinks that math is hard, it is time for you to discover some tips that will make you appreciate the fact that math is among the easiest subjects!
Some people find math intimidating. Nothing scares them more than those weird symbols, expressions and equations.
But to some other people, what makes mathematics easy are those symbols, expressions and equations, but most importantly, the logical/procedural approach to tackling math problems.
My own little experience with math
I studied mechanical engineering. Interestingly, Mechanical engineering did not choose me; I chose mechanical engineering.
Most of you who know about mechanical engineering already know that it involves the application of maths and physics.
I found math and physics much easier than other subjects like English language and Literature, hence my reason for opting for engineering.
Although my own type of math may not be the theoretical type taught in the math department, somehow they are all mathematics.
Engineering takes a practical approach to math, making you see, understand and appreciate the essence of, and real-life application of those x and y you have been writing since primary school.
How to get better at math
Here I want to share some tips I believe someone out there will find helpful in getting better at math.
These tips are meant to be applied and not just to read and move on unless you have no business at all with math… which is almost impossible because we come across mathematics every day and everywhere.
1. Start from the foundation
No one taught me this one! I figured it out myself a long time ago that the best way to learn and understand math such that it sticks for a long time, even years to come is by learning it from the ground up!
Mathematics is like a continuous staircase connected one step to the next higher one. You need to climb the first steps before you can get to the higher ones.
Subjects like agriculture, literature, and English language are different from math:
Assuming you are the math type in secondary school. You wake up one morning and decide it is now agriculture for you. You can pick up a textbook on agricultural science and have better chances of understanding things in there. But the other way round may not be that easy: you need to understand primary school math, and Junior Secondary math before you can understand JAMB or O’Level math.
Simply put, most things in math are connected, from basic arithmetic to statistics, or simple linear equations to polynomials of higher degrees, etc., they are all connected.
The problem now is this: if you don’t understand the basics, it will be difficult to understand the advanced concepts. This is the problem most people have and they are not even aware of it.
2. Don’t read math: mathematics is not meant to be read!
I’m sorry but math is not novel. You don’t read math; rather, you practise/solve math!
Some students read math. They lie down on their bed hold up math textbook and start reading. This is the wrong approach to studying mathematics.
I know one thing math is similar to – programming. The best way to understand programming is by writing the codes, making the mistakes and learning from them.
Study math by solving/attempting it with paper and pen/pencil. This is the best way to learn math. This is how the math you learn sticks to your memory.
3. Cramming works… against you
You are in an exam hall pouring the thing you crammed. Step 1, step 2, and then… step 3 has vanished! Unfortunately, steps 4, 5 and 6 are useless now because you will expose yourself if you skip step 3 and pour the remaining steps you could remember.
Here is another scenario:
The questions are similar but there is a little difference. What can you do now? Nothing. Your cramming can’t help you.
That is how cramming works against you in math.
In fact, in addition to the fact that you can’t understand math by cramming, it is expensive and exhausting cramming mathematics.
Things you cram don’t stay long in your memory compared to things you understood. Sooner than you think, you have to go back and start cramming the same thing over again.
The worst of it all is that in math, a question can be asked in different ways. To someone doing cramming, you will have a little chance. But someone who understood the topic, it doesn’t matter how the question is modified, the approach is the same.
Here is an example:
Someone who crammed the quadratic equation will have to cram these 5 questions one by one. But a student who knows how to solve quadratic equations won’t have any problem, even if you twist the question a thousand different ways.
4. “We all need somebody to lean on”
I am not trying to sing a song here, but just to emphasize that sometimes you should consider asking someone, say a fellow student, to help you out with math.
Of course, you can figure out a lot of things yourself, but understand that you might spend more time trying to figure it out when someone who already knows the solution to that math problem can explain it to you in just a fraction of time.
Some people are shy to ask for help; some are not shy but proud. Whether you are shy or proud, it is time to drop that and accelerate your learning of mathematics by asking for help whenever necessary.
Practise, practise and practise again!
This is like the most important tip I have for you here.
To get better at math, keep on practising, solve different versions of the same problem, have the tools you need to work with: textbooks, the Internet, etc.
And you will testify that math truly, is among the easiest subjects! Also, see List of Best courses to study in Nigeria