Some students absolutely love math, but others cringe at the thought. If your math classes have you worried, don’t take that to mean that you can never be an engineer. Whether it is due to poor teaching, a lack of preparation, or just nerves; math-anxiety can be overcome. What some people views as endless equations and problems can really become plenty of puzzles and games. And if you think you are never going to use math in the real world, think again. Math goes beyond just business and engineering. Just balancing your checkbook or doing your taxes can take some algebra, and when you are planning that new addition to your house, you’ll be glad you studied hard in those classes.
If you struggle with math, don't let it get you down. Even very good mathematicians struggle with it sometimes, and in some ways the struggle can be part of the fun, like a really good puzzle. On the other hand, if you are taking classes you do need to try for the best grade you can manage, so here are a few tips to help you succeed.
1. Ask Questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re only human and we make mistakes. When you are feeling unsure about a problem, ask your math teacher or your peers for help. Don’t be ashamed! You might be asking the same question other students in your class are afraid to ask. Teachers love it when students ask questions, because it shows that you are listening and you are putting effort into understanding the material. The ability to ask questions when you need help is also a skill that is worth practicing, and it will be important if you plan to work in the engineering field. You will have to ask your colleagues about any uncertainty you have on a project, because communication is essential in engineering.
2. Form Study Groups.
Study groups can be very helpful when tackling a difficult class. Study groups involve meeting with your team at regular times so they can be a cure for procrastination. Students who attend study group sessions are encouraged to stick to a schedule, and by working together you can learn faster and have more fun. When studying by yourself, you may tend to view your assignments with one perspective – yours. Face it, studying by yourself is a monotonous activity, but by joining a study group, you can break this monotony. A group will give you the opportunity to discuss topics and problems and fill in learning gaps. When you miss class or are having trouble understanding a certain topic, you can ask your study partners to explain the topic. Study groups are a great resource for passing your difficult classes but always remember to choose your companions carefully. You don’t want to slow yourself down by studying with people who are really not interested in learning the material. In engineering, you have many opportunities to work in teams. Working with a group of people can help engineers combine different ideas and turn them into reality, so working well in a study group will prepare you for bigger things to come in your future career.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice.
You can’t solve those math problems by not practicing. Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Just like sports, in math you also need a lot of practice. Whenever your teacher gives you homework, work on it and don’t set it aside. You may find that what once seemed difficult gets much easier after you have practiced for a while.
4. Take Advantage of Afterschool Tutoring.
Take advantage of the resources around you. Tutors are there to help you. Don’t feel underestimated because you’re asking for extra help. Finding a resource like a tutor only means you know how to get the help you need when you need it. An employer will appreciate that skill because it makes much more sense to speak up when you need extra assistance than to let yourself get overwhelmed and fail to do a good job.
5. Stay Positive.
You’ll have a harder time passing any course with a negative attitude. You will need determination and confidence to get through your classes. Grades can be discouraging when they aren’t what you expect them to be, but think of failures as a challenge. If you can meet the challenges of a difficult course you’ll build the determination you need to stick to a difficult project at work. Finding solutions to the world’s biggest problems will require people who know how to keep working when things get tough. Keep your attitude strong even when your classes seem hard, and you will build the confidence you need to be a great leader.
Math, like any subject, requires some work to really get through. If it doesn’t come easy for you, don’t be alarmed. Follow the tips above when you are facing any difficult course, and you may find things get a lot easier. Every type of engineer uses math in some way, and it is useful in other careers. If you want to make sure you have every opportunity available to you when you start college, DO NOT let math get you down. Check out these reasons to take math in high school if you need some motivation, and before you know it you’ll be the expert!
What about you? Do you have your own tips for staying on track in a difficult course? Share them with us below.