8 Ways to Conquer Maths
Before you read this, please know that there is no magical formula for suddenly kicking maths-butt. But, here are 8 great ways to conquer both your fear of maths, and for you to conquer maths in general.

1. Ask your questions

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Whether it is with your teacher in class, on YouTube (make sure you find a trustworthy resource to watch like Mindset Learn) or on your favourite maths resource website (like this one - use the contact us page and make sure your email address is correct to send your questions in and actually get an answer). This applies to all your subjects - not just maths 🙂 While it might feel a bit strange at first, everyone will be happy that you asked in class (and if you are too shy to ask in class, ask straight afterwards so that you don't fall behind).

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

I can't say this enough, maths is 20% theory and 80% practice. That means that you need to do the homework (without just copying down the answers) and see where you went wrong. Don't be afraid to start trying those more difficult questions. The only way to know that you have conquered a topic is to practice that topic until you are 100% sure of how to conquer each question in it. Worksheets with memos are a great way to practice. Try to do 2 or 3 questions, and then check your answers to make sure you are on the right track. If you get a question wrong, try to figure out where you made your mistake. This is the most effective way to learn. Past exam papers are great to start doing about a week before your test or exam. These will help you to practice different topics and to have an idea of the types of questions that will be asked. Maths is like any hobby or sport - the more you practice, the better you get!

3. Don't be afraid to try

We often build up this expectation in our heads that we have to do everything perfectly the first time round. But this is quite frankly impossible, and you shouldn't expect it to be. Every great baker has baked a lot of cakes, pastries and other delicious items before they found the perfect recipe. If a baker had wanted perfect pastries the first time around, they may never have come up with cro-nuts, or red velvet cheesecake. When you start learning to drive, you don't start out learning to drive on a highway. No, you start small - you start in an empty parking lot, and you learn how to use your three pedals, change gears, release the handbrake and slowly learn clutch control. But, if you are afraid to even begin learning how to drive, or sit in the driver's seat, you will never learn how to drive and discover a great sense of freedom. If you are too afraid to try answering maths questions (like basic fractions) you will never be able to solve algebraic fractions later. Don't be afraid to give it a try, you might discover that you actually have a knack for it. Maths anxiety can really impact you, and if you are struggling with anxiety (particularly in maths class, or during a maths test) you need to chat to someone (like your teacher) about it. (Moms and Dads if you are reading this, here is a great article to help your child cope with maths anxiety.)  This leads me to point number 4:

4. Don't give in to the anxiety

The world is a scary place, and maths can sometimes feel like the scariest place of all, but, if you give into your fear of maths, you may never discover your love for it. Maths is used everywhere. If it scares you, it can severely hamper you in lots of different ways. If you aren't able to convert fractions or half them you won't be able to convert recipes to make them bigger or smaller. Anxiety works as a fight or flight response. This means that your body starts to produce adrenalin and makes sure that your blood flows to the important areas necessary for survival, like to your legs and arms for running and away from your stomach. That means that once the adrenlin leaves your body, all your blood flows back towards your middle and this is what causes the nausea, and lightheadedness. This also means that your brain is focused on survival and is not going to be worried about your maths test or work at all. So, if you can control your anxiety you won't have this crazy rush of adrenlin and your mind can stay focussed on the actual maths task in front of you. Now, please don't misunderstand me, anxiety can feel overwhelming and I have absolutely been in your shoes. But don't be afraid to ask for help. There are people who care. Ask your teacher, or friend, or your parents. They all want to help you achieve your best and conquer maths.

5. Get the basics right to conquer maths

Learn your times tables. It doesn't matter what grade you are in, learn your times tables. Learn them so well that you can answer any times table question in your sleep. Times tables and mental maths form such a core part of maths. If your brain is so focused on trying to figure out what the answer to a multiplication sum is, you won't be able to answer the rest of the question. Mental maths tricks can help you to answer questions faster and will help you to understand other concepts. For example, if you know your times tables, you can also figure out equivalent fractions, and factorising trinomials. Don't be afraid to go a little bit backwards if you are struggling with a particular topic. Go right back to the beginning of the topic and make sure that you understand it before moving on to a more difficult part of the section. Sometimes this means going back a grade or two to where you first started learning about this topic.  Often when we do this, we suddenly figure out where we were going wrong on the more difficult questions we struggled with.

6. Keep Trying

Please don't give up after the first time you try. Sometimes maths takes a little bit of time. In my matric year, I completely failed my second June Paper (the one with Geometry, and Trigonometry). It really upset me - but I knew that I had been struggling with those topics for the entire year. So, what did I do? I asked my parents to get me a study guide that could help me. I asked a friend who was taking extra maths lessons for help. My final matric mark was an A for maths. Albert Eisnstein is quoted as saying that he failed 99 times but succeeded on the 100th. Albert Einstein spent a lot of time doing maths. If he had given up the first time he had failed we would never have the theory of relativity - which revolutionised physics. Now we aren't all Albert Einstein but if maths can teach us perseverance, it is a far better lesson that we can use for the rest of our lives. So don't give up, you can do it! You can conquer maths!

7. Tune out negative thoughts

This follows on from the topic of anxiety. Keep those negative thoughts out of your head. If you keep telling yourself that maths is hard and that you can't do it, thats exactly what is going to happen. Studies show that parents who told their children that maths is hard, and that they hated it, had children who didn't perform as well as other children whose parents didn't say anything about how maths went for them in school (even with parents who didn't do well at maths). Their parents' attitude toward maths directly predicted how their children would perform. Your attitude towards maths can significantly change your results. If you don't like something, it is going to take a lot of motivation to practice. But if you enjoy it, you won't mind practicing it. Try to focus on the positive feelings you get when you figure out how to solve a question, or when a section makes sense and you are getting questions right. Remember that any improvement is good, no matter how small it might feel in the beginning. As I always used to tell my extra maths students - baby steps. As long as you are going forward and progressing, that is all that counts. Give yourself room to grow.

8. Finally, remember its just maths

Seriously, maths is great and I love it, but it took years before I truely discovered how much I loved it. It takes time, and it can sometimes be frustrating, and you may try a question quite a few times before you get it right, but eventually you will get there. Remember its just maths, its not going to determine your entire future because you haven't quite figured out a section just yet. Don't be afraid to give it a try. If you follow the suggestions listed above and give it your best shot, you may just surprise yourself, and then you might find yourself saying - "It's just maths" afterall.

With these 8 suggestions you can conquer maths!

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