Tips for students in mathematics courses

To be good at anything you have to practice.

That principal applies to mathematics, music, sports, and a host of other intellectual activities. In college, students should learn the material that is taught in their course, and you should learn how to learn. It is not enough to have acquired a set of technical skills.You also should have acquired the skill to achieve mastery in any endeavor of your choosing. Mastery comes with practice.

You should achieve mastery in the mathematical sciences because:

  • mathematical mastery will protect your financial interests;
  • you will have greater job opportunities with mathematical and statistical competencies;
  • you will be overwhelmed by its beauty and the concision with which it describes the world around you;
  • mathematics is better understood than than other sciences: it provides simple models that are easily tested. Mathematical models work.
    The most effective way of learning mathematics is to attempt to work problems and to continue attempting a problem until you obtain its solution.

    Use the following problem solving strategies:

  • try to understand a more simple problem;
  • read the associated text;
  • ask an expert (your professor or a peer tutor);
  • rework the problem independently;
  • when you use a formula, write the formula down before you use it --- doing so will help you remember the formula;
  • keep a notebook of solved problems;
  • don't get discouraged --- we all learn from our mistakes;
  • many people who are not as smart as you are have succeeded in the course that you are studying;
  • throw away techniques and solutions that don't work.
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