So, maybe you’re an exceptional student. Your command over languages is impeccable, your knowledge in the fields of history and geography is second to none. Biology, Chemistry, and certain aspects of Physics are like second nature to you.
Alas, you have a weakness. A vulnerability. The heel of your Achillean mind.
In this godforsaken field of study, maybe you’ve never seen a grade above B. Maybe the very thought of numbers and letters combined gives you an anxiety attack. Maybe you just can’t understand the reasoning behind why someone would buy 40 fucking watermelons at a grocery store on a Saturday night.
The result is clear.
You’re shit at Math… or are you?
You might be convinced that you ‘Just aren’t a math person’ or that ‘Math is boring’ just because of a few bad tests at school.
You might have teachers or parents disappointingly shake their head when they see your report card.
Your friends might make fun of you when you try to count on your fingers every single time.
It might seem like you’re down on the ground, but fear not, my friend, I’m here to help you get up. We will figure out why you fell in the first place.
Here are the most common reasons you suck at math:
1) You don’t pay attention.
Listen, some math problems are supposed to be tricky. They don’t want you to just sit there and do a menial, mundane, dull operations time and time again. They want to puzzle and trick you. They do this because that’s how it is in the real world. You’re supposed to be a little mentally stimulated. If you’re distracted by something or the other, it’ll end up hurting you.
While solving through regular problems, you simply might miss a tiny detail somewhere. Perhaps you misread what variable you are supposed to solve for. Maybe you got the order of operations wrong. Maybe you forgot to change the sign. Maybe you combined the terms incorrectly. Oops, maybe you dropped a term. Did you use the wrong formula?
It happens. But it only happens when you aren’t giving the problem your undivided(pun absolutely intended) attention.
This doesn’t mean your bad at math. Just at paying attention.
2) You didn’t practice.
Look, practice might look like a chore, it might even be a chore in some cases, but goddamn if it ain’t important. With practice, you get faster. This means you waste less time on the easy problems and can give more time to the actually tricky ones.
Has it ever happened that you weren’t able to complete the test in time and missed out on quite a few easy questions? PRACTICE! DO IT NOW!
If you keep getting nervous about how much time you have left, you’ll probably end up getting distracted and make some extremely silly mistakes.
This also doesn’t mean that you’re bad at math. You just need some practice.
3) You missed too many classes and didn’t bother to catch up.
Would you ever go into battle without knowing how to use your weapon? Would you jump off a cliff without bringing a parachute?
Well, that’s what’s happening here. If you come back to class one day and everyone seems to be speaking a foreign language you don’t understand, you really need to do some catching up and fast.
Make sure to ask your friends or your teacher what exactly you missed and catch up on it asap. You can also most likely look all of this up online.
4) Your teacher sucks
Look, I get it. Some teachers are just absolutely dogshit at teaching. This might make you hate the subject because everytime you open your book it remind you of that terrible teacher’s stupid face. Maybe they’re bad at teaching, maybe they don’t understand the subject themselves, maybe they’re mean to you.
That sucks. I get it. But if you want to improve at this subject( Since you’re reading this article, you probably want to. That’s awesome) you’re gonna have to spend a little extra time studying it. Again, go the websites listed above and show that ugly bastard who’s boss. Honestly, nothing is more satisfying than correcting a teacher. Take my word for it.
5)You don’t write things down
You might hate picking up a pen and paper because it reminds your of the time when a pen and paper killed your entire family and kicked your pet, but trying to do it all in your head is not the answer. Your brain can only hold so much information in your active memory, and when you write down the problems and solutions on paper it is much easier for your brain to reference each step.
So stop trying to do it all in your head and pick up a fucking pen or a pencil.
6) You visualize too little/too much
“Wait, what?” you say.
You heard me. Sometimes it helps to visualize how a function might look like on a graph, so as to give you a bit of intuition on how to approach a solution. Other times, usually at a higher level, it is better to keep things as abstract as possible. When you’re working with 4 or more dimensions, it is best to keep it as abstract as possible. Your brain might not be able to handle the visuals, but your math will still be right.
7) You’re lazy
An important fact to remember is that there are no shortcuts to being good at math. People who are good at math follow the advice stated above. Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain or regret, my friend.
That’s it for now. I’ll write another article about why math is extremely cool later this week.
Best of luck, my friendos. Live well.