Taken from “How to be a Great Math Student”
By Richard Manning Smith, Ph.D.

Before Class

  • Begin with an open mind. The most important quality that will affect your success is your attitude.
  • If you can achieve success in a “difficult” math course, your awareness of that success can inspire you to pursue challenging projects in the future without becoming demoralized.
  • Recognize that you have control over how well you will do in the course.
  • Decide now that you will make an honest effort to do well in the course.
  • Decide now that you will work not merely to pass the course but to do much better than pass.
  • Decide now that you will persist in working hard in the course until the end, regardless of any setbacks that might occur along the way.
  • Make an exceptional effort from the beginning. Be over dedicated for the first two or three weeks of the course.
  • Select your teacher with care. Ask for recommendations from your counselor or tutor.
  • Buy the textbook early. Get a head start by reading appropriate sections before the course starts.

In Class

  • Feel free to ask questions in class. Don’t put off questions until later.
  • Attend all classes. Missing even one class can put you behind in the course by at least two classes.
  • Arrive on time or a little early, get out your notes and homework, and identify any questions you have for the instructor.
  • Sit in the front and center of the class.
  • Use one three-ring binder devoted exclusively to math. Keep all your notes and tests in order.
  • Take a complete set of notes. Compare notes with another person in class to fill in any parts you missed.
  • Take a tape recorder to class to tape the lecture in addition to taking notes in class.

Studying for Class

  • Plan your study schedule carefully. Give yourself a number of hours to study math every day.
  • Choose a time of day to study math when you are especially alert.
  • Work with a tutor, the instructor, or a study buddy every day.
  • Read your math notes on the same day that you wrote them.
  • Read the textbook and understand the concepts before starting your homework.
  • A math textbook needs to be read slowly. You do not have to read the whole chapter at once. Read through a section, and then go through the examples. Rework the examples without looking at the solution.
  • Avoid test anxiety with solid preparation.
  • Begin to prepare at least a week before the test.
  • Write a list of all the topics the test might cover. List each kind of word problem separately on your topics list.
  • Find specific problems for each topic on your list. Work out problems one topic at a time, until you are completely confident you understand that topic.
  • Make up practice tests that have the same form as the test you will take.
  • Think of ways to distinguish each type of problem from any other. Write a list of similarities and differences. Check that you have accurately identified the correct method for solving each problem.
  • Aim for getting 100% on the test. Over learn the material. You can’t study too much.
Last updated: 6/1/2009 4:12:57 PM