Is it ever too late to improve? Of course not. At least I don't think so. As soon as a student decides THEY want to make more of an effort things can start to turn around for them. I just bumped into a former student today that is just about to graduate college. This particular student really decided to take it up a few notches once they got to college. They started really digging into their math now that they had a clearer picture of where they were going and that math was a hurdle that they needed to get over to get there.
There are so many factors as to why a student doesn't excel in math. It could have to do with a student's early experiences with math that caused them to perceive themselves as 'bad' at math. It could be a lack of effort. A bad repoire with their math teacher could be a deciding factor. A lack of understanding the fundamentals or a poor background with previous math courses can be one's downfall, as well as many many more possibilities exist.
Almost regardless of the cause, a student can begin the process of turning things around. Numbers are not going anywhere anytime soon. It's not like you are trying to keep up with a moving target that keeps changing every month or year. So, realizing that, you can begin to go back over what you don't understand with patience and calmness and with a new perspective. What you didn't get before now you can begin to understand which will in turn make other concepts that depend on those fundamentals easier as well. You will begin to fill in the gaps and be able to see how the pieces of the whole fit together. Start where you are and improve from there. The best time to plant an apple tree is 20 years ago but the second best time is today, as the saying goes!
Ok you've taken the test and you've gotten a lower grade than you hoped for. You look at the ones you missed and you say, 'I know how to do those now.' Does this sound like you? Why is it that you know the concepts but the test doesn't reflect your 'knowledge?'
One of two things is at work here:
1. Either you understand but haven't put yourself through a simulated test taking experience, thus proving to yourself that you need more practice.
2. You are in fact catching on but you are a half step behind where you need to be to really excel on your test.
In the former situation, more practice is the remedy. Make sure you aren't just a spectator but an active participant and are putting pencil to paper and working through the steps yourself. If you are in the second camp, you need to get ahead of the game. You need to flip the situation around to where you are a half step ahead. You can do this on your own or with a friend or tutor. Here's what you do: right before class or the night before quickly skim the next section and mentally create the container for what's coming. Some teachers jump around, so you can periodically ask your teacher what's coming up next. You can also preview upcoming topics with a tutor or even watch a few Youtube videos. Hope that helps...if you KNOW a fastball, sinker, or curveball is coming you'll be ready for it.
The end of the third quarter is quickly approaching and with the onset of some nice weather ahead keep focused and prioritize your studying.
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