link Study Techniques for Math

How to Study Math

Your success in your math course depends on how you study. If you follow these practices, your success in mathematics will improve. 

  1. Study outside of class regularly
    • Work on your math homework or study your math every day.
    • Study your math at least two hours for each hour in the classroom. For example, a four unit class will require at least 8 hours of study per week. 
  2. Read the textbook. See Reading Math Textbooks for details. 
  3. Take good notes in class. See Note-taking for details. 
  4. Make summary sheets.
    • Make a list of important theorems.
    • Make a list of important properties and formulas.
    • Make a list of important vocabulary words.
    • Make a list of the important course objectives for each unit in the course (usually a section or chapter of the textbook).
    • Review these lists every day. 
  5. Practice all problems until you have mastered the ability to solve and check them. 
  6. Be aware of what topics you know well, which topics need more practice and which topics you don't know at all. 
  7. Continually review: Review material from the beginning of the semester throughout the entire semester. 
  8. Do your math homework first, before your other subjects. 
    • You will be working when your mind is sharpest.
    • If you get stuck on a problem, you can revisit it later.
    • You have time to get help on problems that you have no idea about. 
  9. Take breaks. 
    • After a period of concentration, take a break for relaxation or to work on other subjects.
    • Return to problems that you could not complete previously. 
  10. Utilize campus resources 
    • Math Learning Center: tutors, software, videos, textbooks, study skills
    • Your instructor's office hours
    • Purchase Winning At Math by Paul Nolting in the campus bookstore. 
  11. Study in a proper environment 
    • Quiet.  You need to be able to think deeply to learn mathematics. A noisey environment will create obstacles to your concentration and create distractions to focusing on the problems at hand. You will be able to concentrate better with no people, TVs or music in your environment as distractions. Playing relaxing music in the background can be an aid to concentration, however.
    • Well-supplied  Have plenty of scratch paper, graph paper, pencils and erasers handy. Colored pencils are also useful. A scientific calculator is also useful.
    • Well-lit: Make sure there is good lighting while reading and studying. 
    • Study groups  If you are the type of person who learns well in a social environment, try joining or forming a study group. The Math Learning Center staff can help you in this regard.