Math can be a polarizing subject: the rigid formulas and complex problem-solving of mathematics are loved by some and loathed by others. But whether you love it or hate it, everyone needs to learn math at some point. And while there may not be an easy way to learn maths, there are a range of strategies and techniques that can help students understand it faster.
Before we get into the ‘how’, let’s cover the ‘why’.
Why do we study maths?
It may seem like math has no importance in life for most people, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! We all use mathematics every day without realizing it. Splitting a dinner bill, operating a cash register and counting the minutes until your parking meter runs out are some of the more obvious uses for your math skills, but some are less obvious.
Problem solving – the process of working through every detail of a problem to find the right solution – is a fundamental life skill, and studying math improves our ability to solve problems in all areas of life. This can be anything from figuring out where a smell is coming from by eliminating all other possible causes to finding the quickest way to get to work in a traffic jam.
So next time you think ‘I’ll never need to use this math skill again’, think again: math concepts and the techniques we learn from solving math problems help us every day!
How to learn math for students
There are many ways to learn math – in school, with a tutor, using online math learning websites – but whatever way you’re learning, there are some basic principles to keep in mind.
1. Practice makes perfect
Nothing that’s worth having comes easy, and a solid grasp of mathematics is no exception! This is a skill that will develop only by being practiced over and over again, so use your spare time to practice equations, exercises and basic arithmetic. You’ll see – and feel – a difference in a matter of weeks.
2. Review your mistakes
A lot of mathematics is all about problem-solving, and to solve problems you need to apply different solutions until you find the right one. If you got the wrong answer, review your process and identify the mistakes. Understanding where you went wrong in your approach using a step-by-step process is the best way to strengthen your skills and avoid making the same errors again.
3. Focus on concepts, not processes
Math is a sequential subject: you need to understand one problem thoroughly before moving onto the next. If you only know the process of an equation, you’ll find it more difficult to understand where it fits into solutions for different problems in the future.
In fact, in a study conducted by the Cognitive Science Society, students who used a problem-solving-first approach consistently outperformed students who learned the mathematical solution before trying to solve the problem with it. By understanding the problem before knowing the solution, students could more clearly identify the logic behind the problem and what processes would be involved in solving it. That’s why the best way to learn math is to understand the concepts and logic of each solution rather than memorizing the process.
Is there any way to learn maths faster?
Now, the tips you came for: how to learn math fast. While there are no shortcuts when it comes to learning things properly, there are some techniques you can use to strengthen your mathematical understandings and study smarter, not harder.
Here are five tips from study experts for learning maths fast.
1. Use real-world, concrete examples
Math solutions can be very abstract, which makes them difficult to remember and understand. One of the best ways to learn maths fast is to apply a math solution to an everyday situation that you’re more familiar with.
Find an example of a math problem in your daily life to get better at math fast. Some examples could be:
- working out the probability of winning off of a lottery ticket,
- converting recipe quantities from US standard or imperial system to metric amounts, or
- calculating the distance you can drive on a half-tank of fuel in your car.
2. Use technology to improve the math learning process
There is a reason that math websites and online math tutoring have become so popular, and it ties back to one of the fundamental principles of learning maths: practice makes perfect. The more exposure you have to math, the more you will understand and the faster you will learn to work through the process of solving an equation.
From helpful online resources like videos, books and games to interactive video lessons, technology has made it easier – and faster – to learn basic math online free. Whether it’s to learn elementary math online or something more advanced, tutoring sessions can really help you learn math faster.
Online tutoring has grown dramatically in popularity in recent years, a trend likely due to the intensified competition for university placement faced by today’s students. The result is increased pressure to perform well in STEM subjects, and many parents seek math tutors online as a convenient, affordable alternative to tutoring centre programs.
What website will help me in math?
There are thousands of places to learn math online, but look for sites that offer a range of options, like free or cheap trials to help you find a tutor you like working with and instant tutoring for those last minute cramming sessions. Sites like Eurekly offer math tutoring from elementary to college level, and most tutors offer free trial lessons so you can find the right tutor for your learning style, goals and personality.
3. Create a distraction-free environment
Math is a subject that requires your utmost concentration, so avoid the temptation to multi-task or study in distracting environments, such as noisy cafes or in front of a television. Find somewhere that you won’t be called away or tempted with distractions like food, housework or your phone.
Some studies have shown that listening to classical music while studying can improve focus and reduce stress, so try adding a classical playlist to your study routine.
So, if you want to know how to learn math fast, there are thousands of helpful resources, tutoring services and study tips to help you. Whether you focus on applying math solutions to everyday problems, or you hire a tutor to help you reach your learning goals, you can find the right way for you to learn faster. Just treat it like a math problem – apply different solutions until you find the right one!