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Mathematics Strategies

Mathematics Strategies

General Study Strategies

In the study of mathematics students must be able to understand broad concepts and apply these concepts to specific mathematical problems. Students need to learn mathematical terminology and to practice, practice, practice.

Mathematics should be fun and relevant. Showing the application of math to everyday life will help to increase its understanding.


General Study Strategies

Strategies for Textbook Reading  Strategies for Taking Quizes and Tests Strategies for Homework

  • Anchor mathematical concepts. Relate new material to former material as you move from one level of math to the next. Create linkages and associations.
  • Concentrate on the material. Minimize distractions. Study at times when most alert.
  • Recite the terminology, definitions, and formulas aloud. Mathematical language must be learned.
  • Understand the formulas and their usage.
  • Explain mathematical procedures by showing examples to help you learn.
  • Relate mathematical concepts to real life examples.
  • Utilize all three learning style modalities (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) when studying mathematics. Use computer software, audiotapes, videotapes, and manipulatives (i.e. chips, play money). Draw pictures. Make up flashcards to practice formulas, definitions, and procedures. Be sure to shuffle flashcards when studying them.
  • Complete practice problems at the end of each chapter.
  • Do all assigned problems
  • Ask questions.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Reward yourself for your studying efforts.
  • Dont' Cram.
  • Practice,practice practice.

Strategies for Textbook Reading

  • Read your textbook. It is crucial to your success in the class.
  • Read actively. At all times have a desire and interest in the material. Interest is one of the strongest motivators.
  • Survey the objectives at the beginning or end of each chapter before reading the chapter in total. This step provides on overview of the chapter and will aid in your comprehension of the material.
  • Read your text with paper and pencil in hand, writing down information as you read it.

Strategies for Homework

  • Divide your mathematical problems into sections: What is being asked, what procedure will you follow, how will you carry out the procedure, and what is the solution.
  • Be sure that you understand the mathematical concept and the answer before moving on to another problem.
  • When solving a problem always write down the information as you read the problem.
  • Read the problem aloud.
  • Be neat and organized in working out solutions to your problems.
  • Use a large sheet of paper and leave blank space in between each step of a problem.
  • Use the five-step strategy: Familiarize, Translate, Solve, Check, and State
  • Block out the words on a paper that you are not using in order to isolate the problem on which you are presently working.
  • Simplify word problems by crossing out or ignoring irrelevant information. Highlight the key numbers and terms you will need to complete the problem.
  • Check your answers with common sense.
  • Do not depend or rely on your calculator. Use it only as a tool.
  • Review class material as soon after class as possible.
  • Utilize answers provided at the end of the text book

Strategies for Taking Quizzes and Tests


  • Have you studied, carefully read the textbook, completed the assigned work, and memorized definitions and formulas?
  • Remember, cramming & no amount of hope that "this won't be on the test," will get you a good grade.


  • Get an adequate amount of rest. Don't study all night.
  • Get in a final review the day before the test and then relax. The final review should be done from summary notes you have made.
  • Don't study on the day of the test. Last minute studying tends to scramble the material
    in your mind.
  • Get to the test on time with all of the equipment (pencils, eraser, straight edge, calculator) that is needed and allowed.
  • Start the test mentally and physically alert.


  • Before you start, scan the entire test first. Read the directions carefully. If necessary, ask questions, but don't get too technical.
  • Read the questions carefully. Read all of them before starting the test. If a question is
    confusing, have the instructor clarify it but don't get too detailed.
  • What types of questions may be asked? Simplify? Build? Solve? Apply?
  • Decide how you will allocate your time. Use your time wisely. If the test is timed, work as fast and accurately as you can.
  • Work the easiest questions first. This will give you confidence. If you can't answer a
    question, note it on the answer sheet and go on to the next question. Return to this
    question later.
  • Follow directions. If instructions say to answer five of ten questions, it means just that. Answering six questions means that the instructor can pick any five questions not necessarily the best that you have answered.
  • Set up your test booklet and answer sheet together so that your eye movement and pencil movement are minimized.
  • Draw a picture to help yourself visualize the situation, when appropriate. Use a table to help organize the given information. Be sure when arriving at your solution that you have answered the question and that the answer is in appropriate units (i.e., dollars or miles).
  • First, write down the formula used in the problem. Then substitute in values.
  • Write down as many steps in a problem as necessary so that the person correcting it can follow your work.
  • Be neat! Write so that your work can be read easily.
  • Check your work to see if you have done the arithmetic correctly. Once you have done a question do not second-guess yourself.

Problem Solving Questions Using the Five-Step Approach


  • Read the problem through enough times.
  • Decide what is given and what is being asked.
  • Cross out unnecessary information. Some problems contain extraneous (unnecessary)
  • Draw diagrams or pictures.
Organize data in a table if necessary.


• Set up a math statement (equation). Translate words to math symbols.


  • Solve the math statement (equation) that you have derived.
• Apply the answer from the equation to the word problem.



  • Check your solution. Does your answer seem reasonable?
• Be sure the answer makes sense.



  • Give your solution with appropriate unit notation.
• Don't hide the answer. Be sure it is visible to the person who is correcting the test.


True-False Questions

  • Read directions. Do they want T and F or + and - ?
  • Read questions carefully. Look for key words such as "never" "sometimes" "usually" or "always." If you have to guess, here are some suggestions:
    • A question with "never" is more likely to be false.
    • A question with "usually" is true most of the time.
    • A question with "always" is typically false.

After the Test

  • Learn from your mistakes; what did you do right and what did you do wrong?
  • Do not blame someone else for a low grade.
  • Do not blame someone else because you misread a question.
  • Be proud but not boastful about a good grade.
  • Do not get discouraged over a low grade. How can you do better next time?