How to Become Smart at Math

If math is not one of your strong skills, and you struggle with it, read on to learn how you can improve your understanding and excel in the subject.


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    Ask for help.
    • Ask, in class, for clarification of a particular concept. If the answer doesn't really shed any light on the subject, speak to the teacher after class. They may have some suggestions, one-on-one, that they couldn't go into during regular class time.
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    Make sure that you know what the words mean. Math, beyond simple addition and subtraction, is generally a collection of separate operations. For example, multiplication also involves addition, and division also involves subtraction. Before you can grasp a concept completely, you need to understand the meaning of all the operations involved. For each word used in a math problem (for example, "variable,") try this:
    • Memorize the definition from the book. "A symbol for a number we don't know yet. It is usually a letter like x or y."
    • Practice examples of the concept. For example, "4x - 7 = 5," where x is the variable, while 7 and 5 are "constants" 4 is a coefficient of x (another two definitions to look up).
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    Pay particular attention to learning the rules. Properties, formulas, equations, and methods are the tools of math, and will make math and computation much easier when you understand all the tools work. Learn to rely on them like a good carpenter would his saw, tape measure, hammer, etc.
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    Participate in class. If you don't know the answer to a question, ask for clarification. Explain what you do understand, so that the teacher can focus on the parts that are confusing.
    • For example, using the variable problem above, say "I understand that 4 times an unknown variable (x), minus 7, equals 5. What's the first thing I need to do?" Now the teacher knows how to help bring you into the discussion. If you had said, "I don't get it," the teacher might think they need to explain constants and variables first.
    • Never be afraid to ask questions. Even Einstein asked questions (and then answered them)! You're not going to suddenly understand it by staring at the problem. If you don't want to ask a teacher, ask a nearby student, or friend.
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    Seek outside help. If you still need help, and the teacher is unable to explain things in a way you understand, ask them who they would recommend for more in-depth assistance. Find out if there is a study hall or tutoring program, or ask if a teacher could give you extra help before or after class.
    • Just as there are different learning styles (auditory, visual, etc.), there are different teaching styles. If you're a visual learner, and have the best teacher in the world—for auditory learners—you will still find it difficult to learn from them. It's not impossible, but having supplemental help from somebody who teaches the same way you learn will be a great help.
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    Write out your work. For example, when working out equations, divide your solution into steps, writing down what you did you get to the next step.
    • Writing out your work helps you to keep track of the work as you do it, and it may help you get partial credit if you make a mistake somewhere.
    • Writing your steps out will show you where you went wrong.
    • Writing your steps out will also help reinforce and strengthen what you already know.
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    Attempt to solve all the problems that are given to you. After attempting a few examples, you may get the hang of it. If not, you'll have a better idea of where you are getting hung up.
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    Review your graded homework assignments when they are returned to you. Read the teacher's notes, and learn where you went wrong. Ask your teacher to help you review any problems you still don't understand.


  • As you move beyond arithmetic in your study of mathematics, into algebra, geometry, and beyond, the new things you learn will start to build upon the things you have already learned. Thus, make certain that you have a firm grasp of each lesson before moving on.
  • Make sure you do your homework. You could even write out your own problems to practice.
  • Ask questions and if you don't understand, ask the teacher in class or after class. Don't let fear get ahead of you. Don't let people put you down.
  • If you show your work it will be easier.
  • Whether we like it or not, the ability to make quick and accurate arithmetic calculations plays an integral role in both our business and personal lives.
  • Try to understand what you are doing. Don't just "plug and chug". For example, if you are learning to add larger numbers, think about why you are carrying the excess over to the next place, and if you still don't understand—ask.
  • Don't sit out just because you're afraid of making mistakes. Try something, even if you're not quite sure yet.
  • Don't feel embarrassed to ask for help, learn from your mistakes!
  • Practice math for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Always get help from teachers if you don't understand things.
  • Have fun. Even though it may not seem like it yet, mathematics can be remarkably beautiful for its order and elegance.
  • Even if math is challenging for you, do not fear it. Nervousness will just make matters worse. Instead, be patient with yourself and take the time to learn step by step.
  • Never give up. There is only one way to learn!!
  • Ask for help if you don't understand, some math teachers even have times for students to come see them for help, at lunch or after school!
  • In a math test, don't let stress get the better of you. It can make you forget all that you have learnt or studied due to this nervousness.
  • Always show your work so that a teacher will know how you are solving the problem and where you might need help.
  • Do not talk while the teacher is talking and don't tell your friends the answer/s because they will not learn and they will keep on asking you for the answers. Show them how to do the problem instead.


  • Do not memorize math examples. Instead, insist that your teacher explain it to you and make sure you understand what is going on. Each example is different, and the key is understanding why they work that way. Moreover, do not learn a wrong formulae.

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Categories: Surviving Mathematics