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Preparing for Success in Math

By Daniel Schaben

          Success in math is not a secret. It is not easy, it is not a spectator sport, and it is not genetic. That is everything that success in math is not. So what is the secret to becoming successful in mathematics. The best way to be successful in math is to work. Make sure all assignments are completed on time. The second action that must be done is to actively engage in the classroom discussion and problems presented in class. Success means patient work, where students actively engage in the problems. Students must be prepared to make mistakes. Mathematical research has shown that students that make and then correct their own mistakes often learn more than a student who seems to be flawless in math. In fact, this is how a seeming genius in math can lose ground in school. A student that never seems to make a mistake never grows or changes, and pretty soon, when they finally do make a mistake they feel like they are dumb and stop trying. Growth can almost come to a complete halt for them. The final thing I suggest for students to do is to practice math five to ten minutes a day with math that is not classroom math. There are many sites where students can do this and it is completely free. In my class students use Khan Academy. In every one of my classes students are assigned practice in areas that will help them prepare for their college exams. Another site I have used is the Art of Problem Solving and the program Alcumus.   Do a quick Google search and have students spend even a few minutes per day in these sites. It is amazing what kind of growth can occur.

            In summary, to be great at math you should do the assignments assigned on time, make lots of mistakes and correct them, ask questions as you work on problems in class, and finally practice math outside of the classroom. School is a small part of a human’s life, so make the most of it and find resources outside of school that will help you grow mathematically your entire life.   There is always more to learn.