Most people feel that math is a four-letter word. It is a subject that causes a great deal of anxiety for people and is often treated as though what is required is impossible to do.
Myths About Math
- You don’t need math unless you are interested in a scientific or technical career.
- People who do well in math have mathematical minds, and usually these people are male.
- If a person falls behind, or if it has been a long time since studying math, it’s hopeless to try to learn it now.
Truths About Math
- All careers use math.
- Everyone is capable of learning math.
- It is never too late to learn.
Factors of Math Anxiety
- Cognitive Interference – any thinking that interferes with what we are supposed to be doing. Be aware of distractions and put them out of your mind.
- Negative Self Talk – this is a type of Cognitive Interference, these are the "I can’t" ideas; "this is too hard for me," etc.
These types of fears can cause our bodies to release the hormone Epinephrine as a reaction to the anxiety that we feel. This is what makes us jittery and sick to our stomachs when we are anxious.
Ways to Overcome Anxiety
- Acknowledge your feelings, admit your anxiousness.
- Stop yourself from thinking irrelevant thoughts or from putting yourself down.
- Focus your attention toward the task at hand.
- Remember if you do not take risks, you are not growing.
- Avoid caffeine- coffee, tea, and chocolate are stimulants and can make you even more nervous than you already are.
- Breathe deeply and face your anxiety.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
How to Succeed in Math
- Make sure that you are in a class that is “right” for you.
- Come to class on time and bring a pencil, textbook, and notebook.
- Do not let the appearance of math problems intimidate you.
- Ask questions in class.
- Take your math class at a time that you know you will be alert.
- Don’t overload your class schedule.
- Pay special attention to formulas and theorems and understand them.
- Pay attention to the written instructions for each problem.
- Practice problems over and over again.
- Do not place too much emphasis on the correct answer, focus more on the process used.
- SHOW YOUR WORK on tests, you may receive partial credit.
- Get help from others, instructors, tutors, friends, etc.
- Don’t ever give up.
- Meet with the math tutors available in the Academic Enhancement Center.
During the Test
- Carefully read the instructions.
- Go to a problem that is familiar to you.
- Don’t let your feelings about a prior problem interfere with your performance on the current one.
- Watch out for careless errors.
- Watch out for negative self-talk and anxiety.
After the Test
- Congratulate yourself on having worked hard.
- When you get your test back, understand your mistakes and use them as an opportunity to learn.
- Remember trying hard is as important as succeeding.
Remember: practice makes perfect, these types of habits can be used to your advantage in all courses, not just those involving math. It is important to have a schedule that you follow consistently in order to keep your busy schedule under control. Good luck and have fun.