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Overcoming Math Anxiety

Do you feel nervous about math? Do you dislike math? Do you have fear of doing math? If so, you are not alone. You may have "math anxiety."

Math anxiety is not unusual. You might be experiencing some symptoms of math anxiety such as:

  • negative self-talk
  • lack of motiviation to work on math
  • not studying regularly
  • putting off math homework until the last minute
  • panic when doing math homework or tests
  • difficulty remembering math facts
  • relying on memorization rather than understanding

Math anxiety is a condition that you have the power to change, if you so desire. Math anxiety is a learned behavior; you can change it!

Here are a few suggestions to help overcome math anxiety:

  • Do math every day.. You will need to work on your math course each day, if only for a half-hour. You must avoid doing all your math homework and studying on one or two days per week. Schedule quality study time throughout the week and stick to your schedule.

  • Study smart.. Read the information on study skills, time management, note-taking and textbook-reading on this website or in one of the math study skills books. The more you try different approaches, the more you will discover what works for you.

  • Attend class. You must attend class to keep up with the fast pace of a college-level math course. You will also get information regarding tests and instructor expectations. You will see examples that are not in the textbook. You are responsible for all information and concepts presented in class, whether you are present or not.

  • Get organized! You need to keep good class notes. You need to keep a good math notebook with lists of vocabulary, properties, formulas, theorems and procedures. Must anxiety is caused by disorganization.

  • Continually test yourself. Be aware of what you know and of what you don't know. Keep practicing the concepts and problems presented in the classroom and in the textbook.

  • Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Having a negative attitude is an obstacle that does not need to prevent you from succeeding. Be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Develop positive affirmations such as "I will succeed in this course!" or "I love math!" to counteract any negative feelings you may have about your abilities or about math itself.

  • Ultiize all your resources. The Math Learning Center, videotapes, textbook, friends, study groups, your instructor, the internet....all are available to help you succeed. Only you can take advanage of them, however.

There are a variety of other proven techniques and activites that will help to to conquer math anxiety. There are a variety of resources that will address these techniques and activities in more detail than is possible here.

  • Mission College Mathematics Department

    Talk to your instructor or a tutor in the Math Learning Center about your feelings toward mathematics. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step in conquering them. Your instructor and tutors can help direct you to good resources and practices that can help you reduce or eliminate the emotional blocks to learning mathematics.

  • Websites: Check out these websites for more details and suggestions.

  • Books

    You might check the internet or a local bookstore to find a new or used version of one of the books below. Some are available in the Mission College bookstore.

    Winning at Math: Your Guide To Learning Mathematics Through Successful Study Skills, 5th edition. by Paul D. Nolting, Ph.D. Academic Success Press, Inc., 2008. wam5:
    Managing the Mean Math Blues by Cheryl Ooten. Prentice Hall, 2003. mean:
    Conquering Math Anxiety: A Self-Help Workbook with CD,3rd Edition by Cynthia Arem. Brooks/Cole, 2009. arem2:
    MASTERING MATHEMATICS: How to Be A Great Math Student, 2nd ed. by Richard Manning Smith. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1994. mm:
    Mind Over Math by Stanley Kogelman and Joseph Warren. McGraw-Hill,1978. mom:
    Conquering Math Phobia by Calvin C. Clawson. John Wiley & Sons. cmp:
    Overcoming Math Anxiety by Sheila Tobias. W. W. Norton, 1995. oma:
    Overcoming Math Anxiety by Randy Davidson and Ellen Levitov. Addison Wesle, 2000. omad:
    Math for the Anxious: building basic skills by Rosanne Proga, McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Boston, 2005. mfta:
    The Book for Math Empowerment by Sandra Manigault. Godosan Publications, 1997. bfme:

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Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 1:16:40 PM by Math Study Skills

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