Math Anxiety

Math is the worst for me. It is hard. So I definitely have gotten anxiety when it comes to getting a good grade in math and trying to understand what’s going on amidst the x’s and square roots. As with writing, some students feel stress when they encounter anything that has to do with numbers.

Students who experience math anxiety usually try to avoid taking math-related courses. For most students, math anxiety usually results from previous experiences in math classes. You may have had some trouble with a particular topic and have told yourself “I can’t do math” ever since. For some reason math anxiety seems to be the most traumatic and widespread.

However, just like any other type of stress, math anxiety is an overreaction to a situation and, therefore, you can change your response to mathematics. Let’s try these tricks for coping with mathematics anxiety.

-Face it head-on. Don’t wait until your senior year to take your math courses-take them early and overcome your fears.

-Take a class that is at your level. Don’t try to get into calculus if you have never had a pre-calculus course.

-Spend some time each day reading the textbook and doing the practice problems. Going to class is not enough, because you must be able to apply what you have learned to new situations.

-Talk the problems through. One of the best strategies for learning math is to solve problems with words. That is, explain in words how to solve the problem rather than just trying to plug in numbers.

-Get help early on. If you find that you are having trouble learning math concepts, see help as soon as you need it. Get help from a classmate or the instructor, and plan to work with a tutor weekly if necessary. In math classes, the information you are learning usually builds on itself so if you don’t understand what you learned in chapter 2, you will have even more trouble learning the material in chapter 6.

-Use positive talk. Don’t say, “I can’t” or “I’ll never” to yourself because these thoughts can be self-defeating. Instead, try to focus on the positives. Reward yourself for figuring out a tough problem and keep trying to do your best. Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.

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