Math Tips and Suggestions

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READ THE BOOK
Read carefully over the assigned sections and study each sample problems. Decide if you benefit more by reading before or after the instructor covers the material.

DEVELOP A SOUND MATH FOUNDATION
Since new concepts are added to previous concepts, it is very important that the early material be mastered thoroughly. Mastery of material from previous courses makes success in later courses more likely, so continually review and practice concepts from prior math classes.

TIME MANAGEMENT
Complete all readings and especially homework assignments as soon as possible. Complete all assignments before new material is covered since math is cumulative. This insures that the information is fresh in your mind and linked to prior, more fundamental information. Do your assignments early enough that you can get help with the things you do not understand.

CALCULATOR
Learn how to use your calculator effectively and efficiently, especially if exams are timed and you have trouble completing tests in the allotted time. Check with the instructor about suggestions for the appropriate calculator to purchase for a class. Study the instruction manual. Learn how to use important function keys. Get in the habit of carrying the calculator with you. It is better to become proficient with your own calculator rather than borrowing other people’s calculators.

SHOW YOUR WORK
Avoid the temptation to skip steps when solving a problem unless you are quite clear about how to proceed. This is a good habit to get into with your math homework. And definitely don’t skip steps on an exam no matter how well you know the material. Why take chances (unless you’re running out of time)? Showing your work allows you to locate logical or calculation mistakes more easily, and sometimes partial credit is given for the correct portions of an answer.

ORGANIZE YOUR WORK AND WRITE LEGIBLY
Write all numbers and variables clearly so they may be easily distinguished.

Spaces are as important in math equations as are the numbers and variables themselves. Allow enough space between different terms in an equation so it is easy to distinguish them.

Be sure to line up terms in each step of the solution, and write steps one below the other rather than to the right or left. Use lined paper or graph paper to help organize the problems on your page. Don’t scrunch! Use plenty of paper to work each problem.

SUPPORT SERVICES AND MATERIALS
Take advantage of all support services and materials available to you. Support services include workbooks, study groups, self-help videos and cassettes, peer tutors, and instructors’ office hours. Using the resources from the start of the course may help your confidence and get you off on the right foot. Minimally, make use of these resources as soon as you feel uncomfortable with the material – do not wait until it is too late.

PREPARATION AND SUPPLIES

Be prepared:

  • Complete any previously assigned homework
  • Compile a list of questions about the previous assignments to ask the instructor
  • Preview the material to be covered that day
  • Take your textbook and/or workbook to class
  • Carry the proper supplies to each class – calculator, pencils, erasers, lined or graph paper, etc.