Tips for Studying Mathematics
These are some
general tips that were either important enough to single out or just didn’t
seem to fit into any of the other sections.
- Go To Class. Remember that math is cumulative. If you don’t go to class you will miss
important material that will be used in later sections and/or important
- Get to Class On Time. Sometime important announcements are
only given during the first few minutes of a class.
- LISTEN During Class. In order to get something out of the
class you need to listen while in class.
Often this can be difficult to do but it is very important. Sometimes important ideas will not be
written down on the board, but instead just spoken by the instructor.
Watch for things the instructor emphasizes, even if just in words. This often means the instructor thinks
it’s important. The more important
that an instructor thinks a topic is, the more likely that it will show up
on the exam!
- Take Good Notes. Try to write down
everything that instructor puts on board.
It may seem easy when watching the instructor, but it often is not
so easy when it comes time for you to do it. A good set of notes will help remind you
how to do these problems. For some
instructors writing down everything may be difficult. In these cases you should try to write
down as much as possible.
Note as well that this seems to contradict the previous tip. It is often hard to both listen and take
a good set of notes. This is
something that one often only gains with practice. You need to be able to listen while you
are writing down the important parts of the lecture.
- If you
find that you are having trouble both listening and taking good notes then you
might consider bringing in a tape recorder and record the lecture.
Note however that prior to doing this you should first speak with your
instructor. There are a few
instructors out there in the world that do not like to have their lectures
- Ask Questions. If you don’t understand something then
ask your instructor. Chances are
you are not the only one who doesn’t understand.
- Listen When Others Ask Questions. When other students ask questions make
sure you listen to both the question and the answer. It may be that the student asking the
question thought of something that you didn’t think of.
- Review Notes After Class. After each class you should review your
notes. Note the topics that you
found confusing and formulate questions that you can ask your instructor
or tutor to help you understand the topic.
- Make a Set of Index Cards. Make a set of index cards with important
formulas and concepts on them. You
can carry these around with you to look over when you’ve got a few spare
minutes. Use them to help you
memorize the important formulas and concepts.
- Learn The (Proper) Notation. Instructors will assume you know it so
you’ll need to and many instructors will take points off for bad notation.
- Get Into A Study Group. It is often helpful to study in
groups. People often look at things
differently so someone else may see how to solve a problem that can’t do
or understand a topic that you find confusing.
- Note Due Dates. Write down the due dates for homework
and dates for exams someplace you’ll see them so you don’t forget about
- Budget Adequate Time For Studying/Homework.
It often takes more time
studying mathematics to learn the subject than you may require in other
Homework will often take more time than you had originally thought it
would. Keep this in mind as you
- Do Homework After Each Class. At the end of each class budget some
time to look over the homework from that days lecture and attempt to do
it Doing this will allow you time
to really work at understanding the concepts covered that day. Do not wait until the last minute to do
the homework as this often results in an incomplete homework set and/or an
incomplete understanding of the concept.
- Do Homework Without Notes and Book. After the first few homework problems,
put your notes and book up and try to do the remaining problems without
referring to your notes and/or book.
In most cases you will not have these during your exams so get used
to doing problems without them.
- Do More Homework. Do not limit yourself to just the
homework that your instructor assigns.
The more problems that you work the better off you’ll be.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Practice as much as possible. The only way to really learn how to do
problems is work lots of them. The
more you work, the better prepared you will be come exam time.
- Persevere. You will not just instantly get every
topic that is covered in a math class.
There will be some topics that you will have to work at before you
completely understand. The only way
to really grasp some topics is to go home and think about it and work some
problems. You will often find that
after a little work a topic that initially baffled you will all of a
sudden make sense.
- Keep Old Homework and Exams. Do not throw away homework and exams
once you get them back. The
homework is a good source of study material for exams and both the
homework and exams is a good source of study material for comprehensive
final exams (if you’ve got one).
- Don’t Forget Your Textbook. If you get stuck on a topic that was
discussed in class do not forget that you do have a textbook. Often the text book will contain
examples not worked in class and/or a different approach to a problem.
- Seek Help If You Need It. If you are having trouble with your
math class you have many options open to you and you should take advantage
of them. You can go to your instructor’s
office hours, go to the tutoring room or hire a tutor to get help.
Here at Lamar
University we have a
free math tutoring room located in Lucas 209. You can get a current list of tutors for
hire at http://www.math.lamar.edu/tutorlist.asp
or by visiting the departmental office in Lucas 200.
- Have the Proper Attitude. Always do the best that you can. Do not do try to do just enough to get
by. Doing this can lead to major
problems if you aren’t careful. If
you are trying to do just enough to get by then all it takes is one bad
exam and you are now failing the course.
You should always do the best that you can and strive for the best grade
that you can possible get.