6 Ways to Improve in College Mathematics

Mathematics is perceived as one of the most challenging subjects in college. However, that should not be an excuse to underperform in highly mathematical courses. Even with the negative perception, you have to wonder how some students consistently get straight A’s. The problem might not entirely be about math being challenging but also the attitude students carry.

Math anxiety is a problem that colleges need to address because it creates a vicious cycle. A student who is anxious about math is likely to perform poorly, which will then add to their anxiety about the subject.

The wonderful news is that students can learn to manage math anxiety, become more comfortable with the subject, and perform well. We aim to help with that and offer some helpful advice to become better at math.

Abandon the ‘Math Brain’ Myth


There has always been a myth among students that they fail in math because they don’t have a math/science brain. Unfortunately, the myth is perpetuated to provide an excuse for those struggling with the subject. It also prevents many from reaching their true potential.

Scientifically, no brain structure makes you worse at math than that student who always performs well. With a positive attitude and the willingness to do the work, any individual can excel at math.

Develop a Positive Mindset

You can overcome math anxiety by thinking more positively about the subject. Think of an essay writer: if they approach every essay thinking, “I’m going to enjoy this,” then even the most demanding paper becomes easier to complete.

Math anxiety involves focusing on the negatives of the discipline and completely ignoring the positives. So, instead, start identifying some positives in your mathematics encounters and work from there.

For example, if you have recently completed a test and scored 9/15, don’t focus too much on the 6 you missed. Instead, work to improve on the 6 but remind yourself that you dominated 9 questions.

Understand Formulae Instead of Memorizing Them

It’s better to understand the concept behind a formula than memorize it. Knowing why a formula works the way it does makes it easy to remember it in the future. It might take longer, but it will work better than simply memorizing when you face an exam.

Learn From Your Errors

You will also improve at math by learning from your mistakes. For example, after getting the results of a test or homework, many students will put the paper away and forget about it, only to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

A good student revisits the questions they go wrong and understand where they made errors. If it’s just a careless mistake, you can learn to be more careful next time, but if it’s an error you cannot identify, consult your instructor or a classmate for help.

Make the Most of Your Classes

Get to your classes early and settle before the class starts. Arrange all the materials you need for the session, and then start reflecting on what you have been learning. It’s vital to do the following during classes:

  • Concentrate on what you’re being taught
  • Take good notes
  • Pick the right time to write, so you don’t miss anything when the professor speaks
  • Ask questions whenever you feel something is unclear
  • Listen to other people’s questions and think about how you would answer them while also listening to the official teacher’s answer

With math, you also need to make an effort to attend all classes so that you won’t miss anything. Many mathematical concepts carry over to future semesters, so you can’t afford to miss them when they are being taught.

Seek Help From Professors, Tutors, and Group Work

Professors are an essential resource many students don’t get to use. Find them during office hours and ask for their advice and assistance with their class. Furthermore, you can join or organize a group discussion for math with some classmates and work to help improve on each other’s weaknesses.

Tutoring is also great for students who feel they need extra help or are falling behind in classes. Most colleges have peer tutoring programs that you can use to improve. Consult your department heads for details, or hire an external tutor when you can.

Final Thoughts

Math becomes more challenging when you want it to be. You must learn to appreciate it and eliminate the fear many tend to have towards it. The above tips should be of some help in gradually improving your scores. Some might seem too ambitious, but you should try them and observe the results.