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The special study requirements for mathematics

Math is a subject that must be studied differently than other courses.  Two characteristics separate it from other subjects.  It is sequentially learned and it is a skill subject.  For a student to have success in math, he/she must understand these two differences and then be willing to change the approach to math study.  

Carol Wood

Math is sequentially learned, meaning each math topic is built upon previously taught concepts.  To perform computations correctly, previously taught topics must be mastered.  Initially, a student must identify the topics previously taught that are not yet mastered, and once identified, be re-taught the missing concepts and practice problems until the technique is mastered so his/her foundation is solid.  When all previously taught topics are mastered, a student can better learn the current math being taught at school.  Ideally, a student should master the topics presented in class each day by practicing the example problems presented until he/she can correctly work them all without assistance. 

Math is a skill subject which means it must be practiced and drilled for perfection.  Similar to playing a sport or musical instrument, perfecting math skills requires instruction, practice, monitoring, further correction, and more practice.  A student is first shown the proper method to solve a math problem and then is to attempt to solve the problem without assistance.  If a wrong answer is derived, the student must locate where and why the process erred, correct his/her problem-solving technique, and attempt another similar problem.  The student is to repeat this until that type of problem is mastered and before moving on to the next type.   Daily math practice makes for the most successful math student.  In fact, when a teacher does not assign math homework on any given day, the student’s homework is to review his/her class notes and re-work the presented example problems until each can be solved correctly without referencing the notes.  

By acknowledging these special study characteristics for math and acting upon them, a student will solve his/her math difficulties, become more successful in math courses, reduce stress, and perhaps find him/herself actually enjoying math!

Carol is the Founder & Owner of Total Learning Concepts, Inc. Visit for information about their tutorial and test preparation services. For more information about Total Learning Concepts, Inc., please call 770-381-5958 or visit their website at

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