6 Strategies for Success in College Math

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

Have you always struggled with math? Do you fear taking a math course because you were unsuccessful in the past? Are you looking for techniques to improve your success in math?

If you answered yes to the aforementioned questions, there are strategies that can help you overcome those obstacles!

As a college professor, I often encounter students who ask for helpful tips regarding how to improve their performance in math. More often than none, students are doing some things but aren’t doing enough to reach the level of attainment they desire. The following are pointers I provide to help students succeed:

Strategy #1-Read the textbook BEFORE coming to class.

Professors often expect students to read the textbook before class because it allows students to “preview” what will be discussed. Although we expect you to read the textbook, we don’t expect you to teach yourself the material. We simply want you to get a feel as to what we will be teaching. There are times when students are “shocked” by the formulas that are being used. Also, there are times when they don’t understand the math notation. If students read the textbook before coming to class, it minimizes the shock value. Thus, it allows them to focus on understanding and absorbing the information…rather than focusing on formulas.

Strategy #2-Come to class, listen in class, and take notes.

If math is your weakest subject, it’s not wise to miss a day of class. Valuable information is given every class day. While in class, it’s also important to listen. Professors don’t always write important steps on the board. Thus, it’s imperative to pay attention in class and take copious notes. Yes, it’s important to copy notes off the board but it’s also important to make personalized notes to help you understand the material. As stated earlier, professors will sometimes only verbalize steps. Therefore, to be successful, you should make personalized notes in addition to the notes copied off the board.

Strategy #3-Truly understand the basics.

It’s vital to understand the fundamentals of math. Future concepts are built upon preceding concepts. Math is similar to building a house. If the foundation is rocky, so to speak, the house may fall. The same applies to mathematical concepts. Building a solid framework of math skills is significant for future success!

Strategy #4-Do your homework and do it on time.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of homework! Homework should ALWAYS be completed…ALWAYS! Even if your professor does not grade homework, you should ALWAYS do your homework and more importantly, it should ALWAYS be done before the next class meeting.

Strategy #5-Utilize resources.

Professors often provide additional resources to help students be successful in the course. They’re for your benefit. So, use them. They were provided for a reason. Therefore, take full advantage of the resources! You may also want to take advantage of outside resources such as the library, help books, tutors and learning support centers.

Strategy #6-Ask questions and seek help.

It’s vital to seek help when needed. It’s perfectly ok to ask questions. Students shouldn’t feel ashamed because they don’t understand a concept. Get the help you need in order to be successful in the course!

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