Oftentimes when students are assigned homework the problems are assigned in blocks of the same type of problem. Initially, when learning a new concept this type of repetition is very helpful however when it comes to studying for the test it is not. When doing 10 of the same problem in a row it is easy to go on 'auto pilot' where you are no longer thinking critically about the problem and how it fits into the larger whole of what you are learning. Those particular problems just represent a small slice of the pie and without tying it together with the whole meal of the chapter, the individual concepts are quickly forgotten. So, alternatively, when studying for a test try to practice the problems in a more random order for greater comprehension and retention.
Finals are around the corner and another strategy is reviewing your old quizzes and tests. What you want to do is not just look at the tests, but rather, cover up the worked out solutions with a piece of paper and try solving the tougher ones again. Just looking at the work you did previously is not as effective as actually working through the steps again. Hope you find these ideas useful. Let me know how they are working for you!
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As a child we learn rapidly because everything is new to us and we are curious as to how it all works, right? We repeat the same things over and over to see if we get the same results and it helps us learn and remember. We do all this naturally as a child but somehow for many students that natural curiosity is buried. It may not have been a student's idea to learn factoring, trigonometric identities, or the surface area of a cone so there is a subtle resistance that slows down or may even inhibit the learning process. Try for a moment to 'pretend' that it actually was your idea and 'become' curious as to why math works the way it does. How can one do this? See what happens if you change one of the numbers in the problem. How does that alter the result? How about changing that positive to a negative? What does that do? How about working the problem backwards from the end to the beginning. If you are factoring follow that up by foiling. Check your results by substituting them back in. Why does it make the equation true? In conclusion, try to be more curious. Explore this transitive property(law of syllogism): if you are more curious then math becomes more interesting, if math becomes more interesting then you have more fun doing math, if you have more fun doing math, then math becomes easier, if math becomes easier, your math grade becomes higher, if your math grade becomes higher then your self confidence will grow, if your self confidence grows then you will realize that you have untapped potential, if you realize you have untapped potential then you will realize that you are on your way to accomplishing your goals and will enjoy doing so because your curiosity has made you aware of how interesting life is. Wow! It might even be true but I only guarantee up to the increased math score : ) Please let me know of your experiences and results if you try this process.
In one sentence: create your own math problems then solve them.
Oftentimes students are thinking, "I wonder what problems the teacher is going to put on the test?" Think about the problems that you hope are not on the test and start creating exactly these same problems yourself. Just the process of creating the problems will help you to think through the whole process more clearly and will help you in recognizing what is being asked and what is needed. Then when you actually solve the problem you will have that type of problem down and it will become a part of your growing math skills. Everyone enjoys a good story. Through storytelling we can learn and it helps us more easily to remember too. Just a short true tale here about how to make time for math or any subject for that matter. When I was in 9th grade in high school I made friends with a fellow classmate who aside from being really good at school was incredibly strong. One day he happened to share his studying and workout methods and I never forgot it. Very simply, he would do a set of repetitions with his weights then while allowing some time for his muscles to recover he would do some math problems or other school work. Then he would go back to his weights, back and forth like that. When he was resting his mind he was working his muscles but when he was working his mind he was resting his muscles. At 14 or 15 years old he was stronger than most any adult and simultaneously at the top of his classes as well. So you don't have to be a fitness fanatic but I'll bet you there is a way to make time to make better progress with your math. Not everyone desires to be a mathematician but a certain proficiency in math is required for most college degree programs so find a way to make it work!

Mario DiBartolomeoHelping students succeed in math for over 10 years. Individualized attention makes the difference! CategoriesArchives
December 2017
