Math as habit
(Last of three parts)
After giving tips on how to face math with confidence and how to learn concepts effectively, my college students now discuss creative strategies to deepen understanding of mathematics not just for school but for daily life as well.
Do not cram
Martin Gregorio Macalalad says: Do not cram. Cramming does not work, especially for math. All-nighters do more bad than good when the test involves paying attention and working under time pressure. Study math at least two or three days before the test and get at least six hours of sleep the night before. Cramming forces knowledge into the brain, without allowing it to process information. This leads to confusion and even forgetting the study material. Besides, materials covered in tests are usually impossible to study effectively in just one sitting. Simulate the exam environment by moving away from your regular study area and setting a time limit on yourself as you answer a set of problems, preferably from a sample or a past exam. Set aside all music, phones, gadgets. Simulating the test environment conditions your mind to work well during actual exam.
Jesu Jose Salvador says: Practice. You can never really perfect math but, with repetition, you can at least develop a habit. By solving exercises and taking down notes, you develop a routine or discipline essential to learning. Shortcuts are not always the best routes. Be patient in solving problems, taking things step by step. This lessens the chance of making careless mistakes, which, for me, is the worst kind. You realize you could have gotten the answer if you weren’t so impatient and reckless.
Hannah Patricia Dizon says: Study every day. Find time to solve at least three problems a day. While practicing, strive to understand why solutions lead to a particular answer. Do not limit yourself to only one way of solving. Look for alternative solutions. This will help you grasp concepts more fully.
Angela Go says: Set little rewards every time you achieve your goals. These can motivate you to work even harder. Aim to get a B in the next exam, then buy those shoes or the book you’ve been wanting if you succeed. If you’re studying for a test and you answer correctly all 15 problems in the book, take a well-
deserved break and flip through your favorite magazine. Maybe you can set consequences, too. If you get a C or lower, you can’t watch the next episode of “Modern Family” because you have to study even harder.
Study with friends
Joshua Emmanuel Nitura says: Use your strengths to your advantage. While you may not be good in math, you may be good in something else. Someone who is good in math may not be good in another subject. So why not offer to help each other? If you excel in basketball or soccer while your math-inclined friend doesn’t, you can help him develop his skills and he can help you understand the lesson. The show “Survivor” has taught me that alliances can go a long way.
Clarissa Marie Ting says: Study with friends. But group studying only works if you want it to. Don’t get distracted because you’re with friends and there are so many things to talk about other than math. Group study aims to help you tackle all the topics to be included in the test. You don’t want to be the person who just receives all the answers but does not contribute anything to the discussion. Study in advance, take down notes and be more attentive in class. When our study group did those, we passed our long test with flying colors.
Michelle Anne Guerrero says: Make a game out of math. Come up with questions, then you and your friends can think of a game. Offer prizes that all of you like so you will be motivated. Get other mathematically challenged friends to join so more people can be helped. They can also contribute for a bigger prize. More people mean more fun. The more fun you have, the more you will remember the lessons.
Angelica Frances Neri says: When in doubt, consult the Net. Your teacher may be great but sometimes students just have a way of magically forgetting lessons. If you are more of an auditory and visual learner, go to YouTube, search your lesson and begin again. You can pause and replay as many times as you need, then practice. Warning: YouTube cannot actually replace live teaching so you better listen to your teacher because she will help you get a good foundation.
Chynna Sophia Santos says: Do not panic. Relax and do your best. You are not going to get anywhere if you’re stressed. Studying while calm will do wonders. Surround yourself with people who will inspire and motivate you. Let them help and don’t be afraid to ask them about things you don’t understand. Study hard with and for them. Appreciate all the help you get because every answered question and offered solution add to understanding. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They are part of learning. Writing down a solution, even if you are unsure, is better than nothing. An English professor reminded us, “Are you not taught that math is concerned not only with the final answer but also with the elegance of the solution?”
Alfonso Gabriel Mutuc says: Be creative. [Many] students see math in a rigid structured way. They would only use what their books or teachers tell them. Of course, these are valid ways of solving things but they can only go so far. There are many ways to look at numbers. While most people would see 9 times 3, as 9 plus 9 plus 9 is 27, [it may also be seen] as 10 times 3, then minus 3. The problem with students these days is there is no personal style in their math, no originality or creativity. Students just take in whatever information they get without analyzing it, as if straying from the method of the teacher is a cardinal sin. A teacher’s method is only an introduction. Instead of working with numbers, play with them.
E-mail the author at [email protected]