Some teachers will take your paper, tear it up, and throw it in the trash if it is done in pen! Wow! I know that sounds harsh but you should only have to do your math in pen once to realize that pencil and eraser are the way to go. I'm not sure why students like using pen. Perhaps pens glide more easily across the page, or create darker print, or maybe it just feels like a more grown up thing to do. In any case mistakes in math are inevitable and being able to correct the small typos or even to start a problem completely over is the purpose of pencils. What I recommend is using a pencil and eraser that are easy and enjoyable to use. Some mechanical pencils have lead that is so fragile that the lead constantly breaks. Some erasers are so hard(usually the pink ones) that instead of erasing they just make a mess of things. So get some decent writing(and erasing) utensils that will make doing your math more enjoyable and save the pen for brainstorming your big ideas on the back of envelopes and napkins!
One thing I notice successful students do is that they 'sum it up.' What I mean is that they say in their own words not only how to do a particular problem but also how it fits into the greater whole of the chapter or concept they are learning. They will bounce their ideas off me by saying something like, 'so basically what we are doing is learning techniques to show how different series converge or diverge through these various tests, is that right?' Then they will follow up their summary with other questions such as, 'why is knowing that useful?' and a dialogue ensues followed by further clarification and a deeper understanding. Furthermore, this whole process usually diminishes or eliminates the intimidation factor of a new and challenging concept down to size. It helps with remembering it also because you have made it your own by relating to it with your own lexicon. So, don't hesitate to do a summation with yourself, your teacher, a fellow student, a parent, sibling, and/or a tutor to help you grasp those math concepts!
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