Looking for how to get better at math, keep reading this article till the end?
If you’re weak at math or find math difficult then you’re not alone. You will be surprised to know that in a recent study in the US it is found that 37% of teens aged 13-17 found math to be the most difficult subject – the highest ranked overall.
In a new survey, it is also found that at least 89 percent of parents feel that Mathematics is the toughest subject their kids study.
Even in earlier days, I was also not good at mathematics but after 10th, I worked on my math and became better at it. Today I also love to deal with maths questions.
Now, you must be wondering what I did to improve my math and how did I fall in love with math. Isn’t it?
So, In this article, I’m going to give you a complete guide with 15 hacks that will make you better at math.
(I’ve also created an Infographic for these math hacks that you’ll find while reading this article. You can download it for free.)
Without further ado, let’s get into it…
1. Have some belief and confidence
If you always say to yourself and others that you’re not good at math or you are poor at math, or else you hate maths then STOP doing this.
No subject is tough and easy for you, it’s just how you think about that subject.
You’re not born poor at math (sorry for the hard words), it just happened because either your maths teacher might have a different approach to teaching than you like, or else you are never into math questions.
So, what do you need to do now?
Have some belief and motivate yourself by saying, I’m not weak at math, I just need to work on my math and then I can solve any math problems.
Remember, if you make believe that you can improve maths then there are high chances you can do it, but if you think I can’t make it, then possibly you won’t. So, You must always believe that you can solve any maths problem, whether you make it or not, doesn’t matter.
2. Improve your fundamentals of maths
Math always learns from the basics. If you have been always finding you are not good at math and struggle to deal with math problems then first you need to work on your fundamentals of math.
If are not good at dealing with Equations, Percentages, Profit & Loss, Interest, and more then first learn the fundamentals of them and practice basic questions. These topics are the backbone of math and a student must have command of these math topics.
However, if you’re good at these topics then start learning your maths from where you find it difficult.
For example, if you are in 10th and you find Geometry is one of the toughest subjects then I would suggest you, start with the basics of Geometry from where you first heard this name and take a step-by-step approach, you will get better at geometry.
I know starting with basics and studying previous classes’ books might not be easy for you but it’s gonna be worth it for you.
3. Get command on formulas
Math is a subject that is based completely on formulas and one of the big mistakes that many students make is that they solve problems without learning the formulas.
While solving the problems when students need formulas they take help from their book or notebook. Remember, you study any chapters in math, your first step should be to understand the concepts and then learn formulas.
Why it is important so?
Because once you get command of formulas you don’t need to rely on books and look at them again and again. After learning formulas, it will also be easier for you to take steps for solving the problems and you’ll get better at maths.
This way you also won’t forget the formulas that you have learned.
However, you don’t need to learn all the formulas at a time. In your math subject, all chapters divide into exercises (or different levels) and for every exercise, you may have some formulas to learn, and you just have to take steps one after another. (Check out any of the maths chapters.)
4. Take a survey of examples’ set of questions
Before landing on the main exercise or problems in any of your maths chapters, you will find a bunch of example questions with their solutions.
These example sets of questions are great to get a guide of question patterns and understand how the main exercise questions will be cracked. While taking a survey of examples questions, focus on which formula and approach are taken to solve one type of question.
Always remember, you don’t have to memorize any concepts and theories in math, all you need to do is understand the concepts. Once you will good at concepts you will get better at math.
Take an example set of questions as an inspiration or hint before solving the main questions but don’t check out the examples questions when you will be actually solving the main exercise.
5. Don’t try to escape, Give enough time to your math
You are not good at mathematics because you always try to escape your math lectures and subject.
This doesn’t happen with math only. If you find any subject boring, difficult or hard then you always try to make a distance from it. Isn’t it?
Remember, the more you escape from a subject the more it will become hard for you.
So, Instead of escaping from your math, give enough time to it and this is the thing that will make you better at math. As compared to other subjects, give more time to your math subject because you also have to improve your basic skills of math.
From now on, you should be always curious to deal with maths problems, whether you can make it or not, doesn’t matter, taking initial steps is important.
Note: Don't spare longer than 2 hrs at a time with your math subject, and after 2 hrs whenever you study, switch to a different and interesting subject and after that subject when you sit for study again, grab your math book again. You can also reserve your weekends for improving your math.
6. Relate your math with the real world
If your math professor only focuses on formulas & problems and doesn’t relate your math with the real world then somewhere you won’t enjoy studying your math.
Math is a part of our day-to-day life. Whether it is for calculating your exact age or giving someone’s due money with interest we always use maths.
Every single chapter in your math has some connection with the real world. And, before studying any chapter first understand what’s the importance of this chapter. It’s the best way to learn math.
For example, If you study Geometry, first figure out how geometry is used in our daily life. You will probably find in civil engineering we take the help of GEOMETRY. The construction of buildings, rivers, roads, temples, etc is all based on Geometry.
If your professor won’t tell you how this maths subject is useful in daily life then you can google it or watch a 3d video on YouTube around this topic.
Once you can relate your math to the real world, not only you will find your math interesting but also eventually you will become better at math.
7. Solve too many questions (mostly similar types)
Math is all about practice. The more question you solve, the more you get better at math. In one exercise, you get too many questions to practice and every question may ask a different formula.
So, first, focus on questions that need a similar set of formulas to crack, and at the end, you can practice the main exercise where you get a variety of questions.
If in your math textbook, you don’t find enough questions based on one kind of formula for practice then you should try different math books as well.
Remember, formulas can be the same for an easy question and a tough question. So make sure you get commands on formulas and try easy to hard questions first based on the same formula. This tip can definitely make you better at math if you follow it.
8. Don’t get obsessed with the solutions
I have seen many students who get stuck while solving maths problems and check out the answers or solutions right after that. They give up easily without even trying a couple of times.
Getting obsessed with the solution will never make you better at math. The given solution doesn’t give you any chance to think and improve your brain. Instead of looking at the solution, it would be better for you to ask for help when you get stuck in math.
So, instead of looking at a solution easily first put your all effort again to decode it.
In a nutshell, I would say don’t give up easily when you get stuck in any problem. If you have enough time to try then keep trying. But, make sure don’t take too attempts to solve a question in exams otherwise you won’t be able to touch all your exam questions.
9. Apply the Zeigarnik effect while studying math:
Zeigarnik effect is one of the scientifically proven study techniques that I recommend to every student. Let me first tell you, what is the Zeigarnik effect and how it will improve your math?
The Zeigarnik effect was named after its founder, Russian psychiatrist and psychologist Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik. In one of her research, she found that when we leave the task in the middle then we remember all about the task for a long time but when we leave the task after completing we can't remember much.
Even, you also have noticed that after taking a break we are able to do some work that we couldn’t do even after trying many times at a time.
The main reason behind this is when you leave your problem in the middle, your mind gets stuck to it and you keep thinking about the problem, and finally, you come up with a different way to deal with it.
So, try the Zeigarnik effect and take breaks while studying math, I’m sure you will enjoy your math when you’ll solve any tough problem after some time.
10. Take help from your teacher or friends
A teacher’s teaching style can make or break your interest in a subject. Isn’t it?
If in your class you find that most of the students are good at math besides a few students then you can’t say your professor doesn’t have a good skill in teaching math.
And, if you don’t understand your math teacher what he or she is teaching then you can ask for help. You can also ask them after the class about any concept or any problem that you find difficult to understand and solve.
I’m pretty sure they will never say ‘NO’ to you.
Even you can also take help from your friend who is good at math, and notice him or how he or she takes approaches to solve the question where you got stuck.
11. Don’t ignore your mistakes, analyze them
As I said, it’s challenging to have mistakes in math, in most of the problems you find you couldn’t be able to decode them (here I also treat it as a mistake).
It happens mostly when you take a different approach than the problem that needs to be solved.
So, what do you do when you can’t make a question or make mistake in a question?
You probably would ignore it when you get the solution. And, this is where you again make the mistake of not improving your math.
Mistakes are the ones that improve our learning and if you ignore them then you’ll be devoid of learning and the next time you again make the same mistake in the same problem.
So, instead of ignoring your mistakes, analyze them deeply and find out what did you do wrong and how can’t you correct them by your own method. These will improve your understanding of math and make you better at it.
12. Solve miscellaneous problems
In most mathematics books (especially in NCERT), at the end of every math chapter, you will find miscellaneous problems which are often overlooked by students.
The miscellaneous exercise contains a collection of the toughest question that is often asked in competitive exams like JEE Advance. Solving miscellaneous problems sharpens your mind and can make anyone brilliant at math.
After finishing any exercise if you feel like you have got the command in this topic, then the miscellaneous exercise you should definitely try. In this exercise of tough questions, you won’t need any new formula to solve them.
This exercise checks your concept clarity and approaches to using different formulas in one question. So, if you want to get better at math then I’d say after solving the basic exercise you must take a step to advance the exercise i.e. miscellaneous problems.
13. Think different-outside the box
Getting bored by reading these tips? Let me share a real story to make your mood…
In a school, a teacher asked students to add integers from 1 to 100, the teacher thought in the meanwhile I could take a catnap. (It’s a story when there was no calculator.)
All students were struggling to add these lengthy sums but one student took a different approach to add these integers. Let me demonstrate to you what he did…
He arranged the first 1 to 50 integers in one order and the next 50 to 100 integers in different (opposite) order like this:
And, as you can see, he found that adding each pair from beginning to last gave the same result (i.e. 101), So he understood easily what to do next-
101* total number of pairs=101*50
So, with this, he got the result within a few minutes i.e. 101*50=5050=1+2+3+——-+98+99+100. You can also watch the below video for a better understanding of how he did.
The child’s name was Carl Friedrich Gauss and later on, he was generally regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time for his contributions to number theory, geometry, probability theory, and many more.
What he did to solve those lengthy integers now we study in Arithmetics Progression (AP).
So, did you understand what he did?
He thought differently and took a different approach than a simple and lengthy one. So, if you also want to be a master of math, then allow your mind to think differently. Not the same that followed by all students.
It’s good you know the same way to solve a question but you should also look for other ways to solve it. This will make you fallen love with math and you will become better at studying math.
14. Take a weekly test
As I said already, Math is all about practice and improving your mind. So, if you want to get better at math, you should also take a weekly test of your math.
You can arrange this test for every weekend or any day that you like. This weekly test not only gives you a chance to practice maths but also makes you ready for competitive exams where you have to solve maths questions as fast as you can.
Now, it’s on you whether you want to take tests- Online or Offline.
Online tests you can easily take on your phone where you get varieties of questions with a time limit which is preferred by most of the students.
On the other hand, for conducting an offline test by yourself you have to list down a bunch of questions from your textbooks and then set a timer to solve all questions at a given time.
Note: Don’t take too many attempts to solve one question otherwise you can’t complete your paper with the time.
15. Don’t forget to solve previous years’ question papers
Just like the weekly test, the previous year’s math exams papers are also gonna very useful for you if you want to improve your maths. Exams papers always contain the best question, even sometimes an easy question may look harder to you in the exam paper.
So, if you want to kick out your fear of math and get better at math you must solve the previous year’s maths question papers. These previous years’ questions will make a habit in you to solve exams papers easily.
But remember you are allowed to solve previous years’ questions only when you have studied your all math topics very well. Keep in mind, that you might also get solutions to the questions so, don’t get obsessed with the solution easily when you’re solving it.
You can easily online access math previous years’ papers for any exams. However, you can also purchase 5-10 years of previous years’ question bank in form of a hard copy. It’s on you which one you’re comfortable with.
Now It’s Your Turn:
So, in this article I have listed 15 hacks that will make you better at math but only if you follow them. So, start taking your first step from now on.
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which hacks did you find most useful for improving your math?
Let me know in the comment…
Why is math so hard?
There is no tough and easy subject. However, as compared to other subjects maths takes enough time and energy. If you find math so hard then you’re not giving enough time to it. You don’t try a bunch of questions in math that will make you better at math. Don’t give up easily when you can’t solve math problems. If you make mistakes then analyze them.
Why can’t I get better at math?
If you’re afraid to solve math questions and you give up easily when you can’t solve math problems then you probably won’t get better at math.
How can I get better at math fast?
If you want to get better at math fast then understand the math concepts quickly that you study, give enough time to learning maths, and practice too many questions (mostly similar types).