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Maths: 4 ways to improve your skills

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Maths: 4 ways to improve your skills

To become a genius of Mathematics, you have to put the work in.

Yeeeeeah, some people seem to be born with the ability to make numbers dance how they want them to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to get those high marks. Step one is DON’T PANIC. You’ll get there.

Practise lots and lots. And lots and lots

Let’s get the big one out of the way. There’s no magical way to learn this stuff without getting stuck in and practising until you can get the answers all the time (or almost all the time). Go through past papers and sets of exercises, taking note of the areas where you went wrong. Some of these will be silly mistakes and some will be topics you don’t have a grip on. Knowing your weak spots is the first step to turning them into strenghts – with more reading, help from teachers/tutors and…yeah, sorry…more practice.

Understand you’re building a foundation

Not for your face. Everything you learn in Maths from pre-school up is connected, even if it doesn’t seem that way. As you learn more and more about numbers, fractions, algebra, calculus, that other thing with the weird symbols…what’s it called? Doesn’t matter. Everything ties in with everything else. Which means if you’re struggling with a new topic, you should take a moment to think about whether the stuff you’ve already learnt can help you. It also means that even if it seems pointless to know about trigonometry, it’ll help you understand something more complicated in the future.

Always show your working

Even if you know the answer is “2”, you have to explain how you got there. This might be by going through equations step by step, or in some cases it might even involve some short, factual sentences. There are two reasons for this – the first reason is that the question often says you have to. The other reason is that even if you get the wrong answer, the marker can see your thinking. Which means (a) you might still scab some points, and (b) your teacher knows where you went wrong and can point you in the right direction for next time.

Play some games – they’re (secretly) all about Maths

You’d be surprised, but mathematical thinking is what we do when we’re playing lots of different games. Chess, as an example, is about working through possibilities and choosing the best solution. Tsuro takes multi-step problem solving skills, spatial reasoning and the ability to spot patterns. Even when you’re headshotting fools in Fortnite, you’re keeping track of resources, balancing attack versus defence and being really annoying by blowing up my wooden fort when I just finished it. Thinking like a mathematician is the best way to become a mathematician. And it’s a great excuse for not doing your homework.

(Do your homework.)

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