Is There a Trick to Understanding Math?

Updated on August 30, 2011
S.M. asks from Lakeside, CA
16 answers

I've been watching math tutorials anyplace I can get them. I have several places that I can find them online. But I'll be darned if I dread watching them, only understand about 1/3rd of what I see, feel lost nearly the whole time and I know my daughter feels exactly the same way. Are some of us just destined to be math stupid?

The degree plan I hope to embark on only required 3 credits of math and I can do algebra through CLEP, or I can do a 6 credit math class that covers a wider variety of subjects. I've even tried going back to the 4th and 5th grade homeschooling math and I'm fine if it's just basic concepts. The minute I get into something with complex concepts my brain says NO

Has anyone overcome a math phobia?

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So What Happened?

I guess I'm just going to have to come up with some money for a tutor. Since I can CLEP out of this, I really want to try. I have the CLEP program online that gives me practice problems. Each time I read through the questions I look online for a video that explains that kind of problem. For now I'm studying Algebra. It sure seems pointless to learn it long enough for a test and then forget about it forever. I promise I WILL forget about it forever. But that's all I have to do. 3 credits and I'm done.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think it's a learning style issue.
What kind of Math are you talking about??
Calculus? Geometry? What?
You need to find a tutor who will sit with you and go over each step. Then you need to sit and do a gazillion problems until you understand each concept.

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answers from Norfolk on

YES! I'm TERRIBLE at math. What worked for me is sitting down with the right person (a high school math teacher) and having her break it all down for me. Now others before her had tried but I guess we didn't speak the same language because I was still confused. This teacher really made a difference for me and explained things in terms I was interested in and gave me a way to apply the math and that helped a lot. Some of us are mathematically challenged. It doesn't mean we're stupid, it's just not our strong suit. I'd look for a tutor who you really understand (so that means you may have to try out several) and see if that does the trick. Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

You should get tested for a real disorder called "dyscalculia." It is in the same family as "dyslexia" but it affects how some people perceive mathematical concepts. It is highly under-diagnosed, and many children suffer years of frustration in school believing they are "stupid", and adults waste tons of money and energy attempting to re-learn math using regular teaching and learning methods when a different approach is what is needed.

You can master and learn math concepts with this disorder, but like other learning disabilities, you will need a special approach and therapies to achieve that goal. There are many programs that offer help.

You should know this condition can be hereditary also. So if your daughter is challenged, you might want her to get tested as well.

Here is information on the disorder:

Here's a quick test online and other information on why testing is important. Regardless of your results, you should find an actual clinic to have bonifide testing done.

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answers from Chicago on

It's weird I think there is maybe a math gene lol. And I didn't get it. I was fine in math as long as it was basic stuff. adding , subtracting, multiplying and division. as soon as you add in a decimal point and or parenthesis I am done. My kids however got the math gene from their dad. I was done doing their math with them by third grade. My feelings are that math should be numbers and not letters lol. My daughter just graduated from nursing school. she took all math classes as her electives. My oldest son just graduated from Carthage college with a degree in Actuarial Math. (this would be math problems that cover whole pages with you know words and stuff lol) next son is doing pretty much the same from NIU this year. youngest son hates math as much as I do although he can muddle through it. So while I don't think your destined to be math stupid I do think there is a math gene that skips some of us. Good luck with it. I would take the one you can get the most help with.

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answers from Rochester on

Math is my thing!! :)

You aren't really specific about what you're trying to learn, or what concepts you don't understand. I've tutored a lot of people in math from basic math up to calculus, so if you want to write me about what you're struggling with, I'll see if I can come up with some easy ways for you to understand it. I'd love to help if I can! (Because I love math!!!) :)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I always hung in there pretty well with math, until (dum dah dum dum) Freshman Calculus in college! It scrambled my brain! I ignored advice to "don't try to *understand* it--just learn HOW to do it" and pressed on. Attended EVERY single 8:00 AM class, endured a pompous, author of the course textbook prof and missed a D by 2 points! It was the only class in my academic history worthy of less than a B. Sigh. I always vowed I would take a calculus class "for fun" someday to prove to myself I can grasp it--but I still get a cold sweat just thinking about it! LOL
I think some people (left brain dominant) have a harder time grasping math.....
What do you mean by "complex" exactly?
A tutor might be the way to go. Algebra is really pretty logical and probably do-able for you! Trig is where it starts getting a bit hairy...calculus--UGH--forget it.

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answers from Dallas on

Ive never understood math. I hate it and homework for me was a nightmare! I so envy and respect anyone that can do it! Good luck mama

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answers from St. Louis on

Math requires REPETITION and REPETITION. Exercise your brain with basic math and then start from there; practice and practice every single day and increase the amount and difficulty of the exercises.
When we say " I am not good at..." or "I just don't like Math..." we are giving our brains "bad" instructions and we believe it...
Train your brain and be patient....If you want things easier..just find a tutor or online math classes, but do not let your brain take the easy way......
Sorry if I did'nt say what you expected, but based on my experience, that works.

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answers from New York on

The key is to remember that everything math describes are real things in the real world. Most people eventually have an issue making the map from the math to something real. I was "good at math" but eventually I couldn't do it (somewhere around advanced differential equations). See if you can find someone to help you, and once you get the idea you should be able to be OK.

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answers from St. Louis on

Yes some people are "math stupid". Just like learning English, grammar, is like a foreign language to me. Some minds just have no place for that stuff.

I had to learn all things verbal to do well on the GMAT. I learned everything I needed to know as data. In other words I tricked my brain into storing it where I am more efficient in retrieving it. I haven't a clue if there is a reverse technique. I can learn all things math and logic in my sleep. I just haven't a clue where my participles are dangling.

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answers from Houston on

I would have graduated college years ago if I could only get past the math. It's the only courses I have left and I've taken them 5+ times. My high school let me bypass math as I constantly failed, by letting me take personal finance and business math, but my college requires algebra.

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answers from Houston on

Kahn academy is good - but I just took college algebra after about 20 years, and my best resource and the reason I got an A, was
She is awesome x 10000
The other thing you HAVE to do, is work problems everyday - get them wrong, find out why they are wrong, that is how you learn. start at the beginning, then work up.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Kansas City on

Oh my gosh...I'm sorry to jump in here and SLM I totally hear you one the can do Algebra but for me beyond algebra I am ingnorant as can be. Work problems...I HATE them!

Anyway JL...thank you I have never heard of that and I am going to look into this as I think I may have this!


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answers from New York on

I"ve heard about this online program called Kahn Academy. It's for kids but goes to all sorts of levels and is supposed to be FANTASTIC. It's new. It really seems worth checking out.

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