You're in math class when you realize...

A student (young Tom Hanks) raises his hand and says,

If this is you, you're not alone. Many students struggle in math, and it's no wonder — understanding abstract concepts can be a challenge. It takes practice and patience to do well in math, so what can you do to make it easier?

These 5 strategies will help you not only get good grades but boost your confidence in math class!

#1: Take math notes efficiently

In class, your teacher will guide you through each math concept and provide examples using a specific formula or theory. Take careful notes when the teacher is going over key points so you can reference them later.

A man eagerly taking notes.

If you already know what lesson will be taught the next day, preview that chapter in your textbookandtake note of the concepts and formulas beforehand. That way, you can focus on important points your teacher demonstrates rather than what is already in the book.

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Take note of:

  • Formulas and equations

  • The process of solving a specific problem (steps involved)

  • Examples solved step-by-step

  • Tips that can help you solve a problem

  • Something not specified in your textbook

  • Questions you may have so you can ask your teacher later

#2: Memorize and understand formulas

Most math concepts have a formula that helps you solve a problem. Break down these formulas to understand when they're used and why. Take note of the formula itself and provide examples as to how you should use it.

Having a strong foundation and knowing how to use formulas in different contexts are important because math builds upon itself.

Understanding the "when" and "why" of each formula will help you in your current math unit and with advanced topics.

A man sees math equations and formulas.

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Enhance your understanding of a formula by:

  • Memorizing the name of the formula andthe formula itself

  • Knowing when you can and can't use it

  • Jotting down examples with a step-by-step breakdown

  • Writing down ways in which the formula can be manipulated orhas more than one way of expression

#3: Practice sample problems

Math is heavily focused on application, so solve sample problems to practice using a specific formula or theory. You can get these problems from your notes, textbook, homework, or by looking online.

Trevor Noah says,

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When solving math problems, aim to:

  • Solve it on your own first before referencing the textbook or answer key

  • Have a variety of problems (different numbers, varying lengths, increasing complexity, word problems)

  • Make your work as neat as possible (showing your work step-by-step)

  • Have an answer key available so you can check if you're correct

  • Take your time to avoid making simple mistakes or skipping steps


Why might it be important to keep your work as neat as posisble? Select all that apply.

#4: Ask for help

If you're stuck on anything — a concept, an equation, or how and why a problem should be solved in a specific way — reach out for help. It's important to seek clarificationbecause math builds upon itself and will become increasingly complex.

A Star Trek character says,

If you struggle to understand something now and don't ask for help, you risk falling behind and becoming more confused. Reach out to teachers, classmates, tutoring centers, family members, and friends if you need support.

There's nothing wrong with asking for help! You're deepening your understanding of a complex subject, and you should be proud.

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When should you ask for help? Reach out to someone if you're:

  • Looking for ways to start solving a problem

  • Still trying to grasp the concept

  • Stuck on a specific problem/step

  • Trying to understand how/why a specific formula is used

  • Checking your work for simple mistakes

#5: Search the web for tutorials

If you need additional support outside of the classroom or want to learn a concept in a different teaching style,look up online tutorialsto solve a specific math problem or concept.

These tutorials often feature a teacher breaking down sample equations and explaining how to solve them.

Two people working using their laptops.

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Key advantages of using online tutorials include:

  • Learning through a variety of teaching styles

  • Pausing and re-visiting partsof a video/learning module

  • Practicing sample questions

  • Access to forums or comment sections to ask questions

  • Accessibility outside of the classroom

For support divided by grade level and content, check out sites like Khan Academy and You can also look up keywords on YouTube (ex. "linear equations") for tutorials and mini-lessons.

Take Action

Math is a complex subject, and the learning process may be challenging.

However, once you understand the "hows" and "whys" of a concept and begin to answer more math problems correctly, your confidence will grow, and you may find yourself wanting to tackle the next big thing.

A female Star Trek character says,

These 5 tips are about more than just learning how to get good grades. They'll help you improve your math skills overall!

To set yourself up for success in math class:


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