Friday, April 5, 2013

Math Study Skills: 5 Ways That Do Not Work

by Vicki Meltz

Why does studying math even need math study skills?

Because good study skills are needed in order to understand math. The reason good math study skills are required is because math builds upon the lesson before. If you don't understand the current lesson, you probably wont be able to understand the next lesson.

Understanding Math Requires Understanding the Previous Section

In other courses, understanding the prior section may not effect the next section. For example, in history if you did not memorize the facts or understand the Revolutionary War, this does not mean you can't understand and pass the quiz on the Civil War. This just does not work in math.

5 Ways That Do Not Work in Studying Math

1. Memorization Alone Will Not Work

In addition to the need to know the prior section, memorization alone will not work in solving math problems. [IMPORTANT see exception to this below].

Memorization will not by itself, help you to comprehend the math. Memorization will not be able to help you use your knowledge to solve various problems on the same topic.

The reason memorization will not work in math is because there are many ways to ask the same question. Instead of memorization, what is needed is a thorough understanding of the concept, so that no matter how the question is asked you will be able to figure it out.

You cannot memorize every way a question could be asked on a topic. Also, memorization does not work when asked to apply knowledge of a concept in a completely different context than what you memorized.

As in the history example above, memorization may be able to work. For example, in history if you were to memorize the facts of the Revolutionary War, you have a good chance of passing the quiz on the Revolutionary War.

Exception Regarding Memorization

Math vocabulary should be memorized. Without knowing the meaning of a math word, problems cannot be solved correctly.

A major cause of confusion is when a common word is used in a math problem. The same common word has a different meaning in math. For example, the word difference.

The word difference used commonly:

Difference commonly means to compare 2 (or more) things and notice what is not the same between the 2 things. As in what is the difference between a miniature poodle and a standard poodle. Answer, the difference between a miniature and standard poodle is the SIZE. The word Size is the answer.

Now the word difference used in math:
Difference in math means the answer you get when you solve a subtraction problem. As in the difference of 5 - 2 is 3. The number "3" is the difference in math. The difference in math is NOT that number 5 has x+x+x+x+x objects and number 2 has x+x objects. Again the difference in math as in 5 - 2 the NUMBER THREE (3).

2. Cramming Does Not Work

Is math more difficult to learn? For some it can be tricky. Math requires a deep understanding of the concepts. Achieving this deep understanding of concepts requires a consistent approach to learning math. To really get math, you have to understand what was taught before in math.

Trying to learn math by cramming will not work. Math lessons build upon one another. Cramming is when you try to learn the needed material for a test in the couple of days before the test. Cramming does not allow you to truly pick up the concepts. It is understanding and may able to apply the concepts in any context that is required to be successful in math.

3. Missing Classes Will Not Work

Missing days is a dependable way to fall behind. Missing many classes almost guarantees you will not get the concept and may fall so far behind that it seems overwhelming to catch up. High absences is a major reason students fail. You can become confused by missing 1 class.

4. Falling Behind in Your Studies Does Not Work

Here is another dependable way to have a high probability of failing. In other words, if you want to fail in math, do not do the homework, do not do the classwork and let sections go by that you do not understand. Therefore, you could have attended all the classes and not learned the knowledge you need to know.

It seems obvious to say that when you fall in arrears on your lessons, it becomes harder and harder to catch up. And since math builds upon each lesson, it is not only the current lesson you need to learn but all of the lessons that came before this current lesson.

5. Daydreaming Or Just Filling In Worksheets

Sad to say, but, just attending the classes is not enough to pass math. If you are daydreaming, texting and not paying attention, you will not get the concept.

And if you just fill in worksheets without you working out the problem, you will not get the concept. When a student copies the answers, does not work out the problem themselves, the student has not mastered the material.

Yes work together to solve the worksheet, that is different. If you participate in helping to solve the problem with your classmates, then you are learning the material. But you are not fooling anyone by just copying the answers.

Just because you show up to class is not a reason the teacher should pass you. And because you passed in every worksheet is not a reason you should pass. In order to pass the math class you are required to prove that you yourself know the material.

You will not know the material and be able to pass a test if you have daydreamed in class, copied answers to worksheets and basically did not do the work.

The above 5 ways not to study math are the most common reasons students fail in math. Now to find out what does work in math study skills see

It is possible to learn math. It is possible to change a negative self image regarding math to a positive one. Discover secrets to studying success at

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