Episode 16 – Studying for Maths (and calculations subjects)

Welcome back to another episode of the BrainTree Podcast. This episode is focussing on studying for a specific area, today it’s Mathematics.

 [01:12] Rocky discusses his performance in mathematics when he was at school before discussing a relevant resource, that’s coming soon!

[03:50] Prue introduces her quote for this episode, today it’s from Mahatma Gandhi.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow, but learn as if you were to live forever”

[05:00] Our hosts jump into the core topic for today and discuss the common trappings of studying for calculation-based subjects, where many people make the mistake of focussing on passive-learning and cramming.

[06:58] Prue relates an experience about studying mathematics at university and the importance (and side effects) of asking questions. Prue suggests keeping a list of problems and things you do not understand and finding the right person, a teacher, a parent or a tutor who can answer them for you.

[11:15] Prue gives a key tip – use clear logic and show all your working.  Rocky gives us an example of his daughter, who got the answer wrong, but because she showed her working, it was clear she understood the process, but only had a slight error.

[14:34] All calculations subjects mean homework, so Prue advises that the best way to study is to do the calculations without constantly checking the answers. Check the answers at the end, but to learn the best, work your way through the problems without relying on the answer book.

Improving Results in Maths

[16:40] Prue and Rocky discuss how important rote learning is for elements such as multiplication tables. It’s a little unfashionable at the moment, but Prue tells us that it’s the most effective method of learning such knowledge.

[20:30] Prue tells us the importance of keeping study notes or a summary book. Jot down important formulas or reminders for things you often forget. Makes the notes as you go and keep them close at hand.

[22:36] We then move on to how to study with these notes. Prue discusses how studying mathematics is a process of elimination, where you try to pinpoint what you are unable to do, to then be able to study it and learn it. This involves a lot of practice, but the practice does not involve looking through the answers.

[25:08] Prue recommends that step one for study is to do topic-by-topic revision first. Figure out where you struggled and focus on these before jumping in to the mixed questions found in a practice exam.

[27:00] Rocky and Prue talk about the difficulty of having to identify your problem areas and both recommend going back a few episodes of the BrainTree podcast and listening to episode six – Success Mindset.

[29:16] Prue compares studying for mathematics to studying for languages, in that they’re both about studying skills in the same way that you will be tested. Study under exam conditions, with time limits, and you will learn to accelerate your recall for mathematics.

[31:06] Rocky and Prue start to wrap up, but before they do, Prue has a couple of final discussion points. If you’re not happy with your marks in mathematics then there’s four questions that you need to ask:

  1. How effectively am I using my class time for this subject?
  2. What approach do I take to do my homework?
  3. What do I do if I can’t understand something?
  4. What’s my approach for preparing for tests or exams?

[32:22] Prue wraps up with advice on choosing the right level of mathematics for you. If you work hard enough and have the right help, then you can aim high, but unless you need it for a pre-requisite, then don’t do the highest level to the detriment of your other subjects.

[36:15] So that’s the conclusion of the mathematics episode, but before we go, if you have any further questions about this episode or any episodes then get in touch and ask a question. Prue and Rocky are ready to answer any questions you may have.

Don’t forget to subscribe and give us a review on iTunes!

1 thought on “Episode 16 – Studying for Maths (and calculations subjects)”

  1. We received this comment via email: When Rocky asked Prue’s opinion on wrote learning of times tables because it doesn’t encourage ‘discovery’ type of learning. What I have to say to this is that although learning the times tables may be wrote learnt but it opens so many other rich discovery learning when the students know their timetables. They will be more able to learn through discovery and problem solving. Suzan

    Reply from Prue: You are so right Suzan. The times tables are the building blocks of Maths. We have to do the boring rote learning of these so that we can get to all the exciting parts of Mathematics!

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