I feel like I’m always saying this, but I’m a math major. So let’s skip past the confused and scared looks and get to the advice.
I’ve taken my fair share of difficult math classes in my college career (don’t even mention statistics to me), and I’ve prepared all the advice I’ve build up to share with you now. If you’re going to be taking a math class this next semester, this post is for you!
End of chapter problems
The best way to study is to do more problems. I know, who wants to do even more homework? But it’s worth it.
The best problems to do are in the back of each chapter. These will help you review every concept you learned and get you ready for the next test.
Now this isn’t a great way to start this off, but I never really did this much. In my defense though, I did do all the practice problems my professors gave before exams. Same thing right?
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So I guess what I should have titled this was “do more problems.” Maybe it’s just one problem for each new concept or it’s the whole review section. Every little problem helps!
Teach someone else
The best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. Especially if it’s something with multiple steps, like a math problem.
One of the hardest topics I’ve ever learned was series in Calc II. I hardcore struggled with this topic, but one of my friends had an even harder time than me, so I told him I would help. He had a different professor than me, so I was doing even more problems than what my professor had given me. I would help him work through them and explain my thinking and we could go back and forth about what the next step to take was.
Not only did it clarify some of the harder points for both of us, but it made doing homework more bearable.
Do homework with others
But don’t you dare cheat!
Chastising aside, working on homework with others (when done right) is highly effective. As I said before, when helping someone else you have the opportunity to see things from their perspective and get their insight. This applies here as well. You may not be teaching them, and they may not be teaching you, but if anyone gets stuck, there’s someone there to help.
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And again, this definitely makes doing math homework more fun. Just don’t goof off too much and spend most of the study group time talking about random shenanigans. Remember, you’re there to learn and get your homework done so you don’t have to worry about it later.
Go to the professor
No matter how scary or mean you think your professor is, always try to go to them at least once if you struggle with the homework often.
They may not be of any actual help (like no just doing the problem for me doesn’t help, sir), but they will remember you! I’ve had so many people tell me to make sure I visit my professor during office hours. Or at least e-mail with a question. Why? Because then they can put a face to a name easier. And there’s been quite a few claims floating around that if your professor can put your face to your name then they’ll go easier on your grading. Score!
Going to them for help also shows them that you care about your grade and that you are putting in the effort to succeed. And I don’t know about you, but I’d be much more willing to bump up someone’s grade a few points if I knew they were putting in maximum effort opposed to the person who never bothers to get help.
The very first time I ever went to tutoring was for Calc II. I needed help with a homework assignment so I walked in and waited for a tutor. When he came over and saw what I needed help with, he asked me, “Have you ever heard of Slader?”
Confused freshman me said no. He pulled out his laptop, loaded up the page and I knew right then I was saved.
So what is Slader?
Slader is a website loaded with tons of textbooks and answers to their practice problems. Not just every other answer either, like in the back of most textbooks. And there are even solutions worked out so you can see how to get from step to step!
The thing you have to be careful about it just copying the answer. This gets you nowhere. Usually, I try to do a problem, and if I get stuck I load up the website and see what the next step is. Then I keep going and when I get stuck again I’ll take another peek.
I’ve also used the site to just check my answers, as well.
Solutions to the questions are posted by real people, so you can see a real student’s point of view on a question. You can also comment asking for help with a specific step, although I’ve never done that myself.
I’ve only ever used this for math textbooks, but Slader also covers subjects like science, economics, and history.
So there you have it, all my little math major secrets are out! And I hope you find them helpful in your next math class!