“It's not that I'm so smart: it's just that I stay with problems longer.” - Albert Einstein

This quote by the great mathematician tells us that sometimes we have to stick it out to the end .... and not simply give up. He, obviously, tackled far more complicated and complex problems,  but they all had their roots, initially, in the basics of mathematics. The great discoverers of yore all had a deep grounding in mathematics, including Newton, Einstein and Galileo.

It might not be necessary for you to comprehend maths to that degree. Many people, for whom maths is demanding, may consider it only helpful for the study of maths and the sciences at school.

Proficiency in maths can also be extremely valuable outside of the formal learning environment, whether you need to split a bill after a restaurant meal, are working as a quantity surveyor or are trying to calculate the amount of bricks, cement and sand needed for your building project.

A whole host of day-to-day problems will require you to be able to perform calculations and deal with figures. Maths will put you in a position to tackle any numerical problem.

Do times tables or long division sums still haunt you?

Do you break into a sweat when you encounter linear equations?

Is there a way to master maths without ending up crazy?

This article describes some (nicks and tricks) methods which will help you work out what mathematics actually entails. Maths is much easier when you consider it to be a handy and common-sense way of easily solving numerous questions or conundrums.

Is It Easy to Study Maths?

It is a well-known fact that mathematics is regarded as one of the most difficult subjects that you will encounter at school. Despite this, you can no doubt calculate 10 x 20 without much trouble.

A good many people have difficulty doing mental calculations like addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. This can, of course, be practised (can you still hear yourself reciting your multiplication tables in primary school?) and you can learn specific tactics to simplify these operations.

Maths can, in fact, be easy to learn, if you’re employing the correct methods. Your methods and goals must be aligned. Your goals could be to:

  • Study for matric exams
  • Prepare for a mathematics exam at varsity
  • Apply for a job, like auditing, where maths is a prerequisite.
Tree branches
Maths has numerous branches (Source: Unsplash)

Mathematics is made up of various categories:

  • Trigonometry (measuring triangles and calculating their qualities)
  • Geometry (position, size, shape, etc.)
  • Algebra (equations, symbols, number theory, etc.)
  • Arithmetic (how to subtract, add, divide, multiply, place value, etc.).

As with some subjects like history or geography, you occasionally have to commit certain sections of work to memory.

What is the purpose?

A study of mathematics, no matter the level, will still include all components of the subject.

Certain maths problems are more complicated than others. Obviously, subtraction and addition sums are easier to solve than quadratic equations and exponentiation. If, however, you always rely on your calculator to work everything out, you will not ever improve at doing calculations mentally.

You may not have encountered particular examples of math problems at school and may only see them at university level. So, when you then study maths, you will have to choose the way you learn built on:

  • Your basic knowledge of maths
  • The level you wish to attain
  • Why you are studying maths
  • The time at your disposal

This brings us to the various methods of learning maths.

Teach Yourself Maths Fast

Very few people love maths. On average, people struggle with it or hate it! It is, however, a vital subject in any curriculum and plays an important role in people’s everyday lives, not only in the workplace.

For South Africa, the numbers are not impressive at all. Recently, Trends International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) quoted that South Africa was one of the lowest performing countries in terms of maths scores. The country was listed in the bottom five, being propped up only by Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, there are many practical and easy techniques to help you learn maths. Firstly, you can repeatedly work through exercises and also procure worksheets which you can study. These can benefit you, in terms of:

  • Learning to solve difficult sums
  • Improving your concept of decimal numbers
  • Knowing the properties of various shapes
  • Learning the cube roots of different numbers
  • Transferring your maths expertise to other areas of learning, like chemistry or physics.
Do Something Great Sign
Get those studies started! (Source: Unsplash)

No matter your reasons for studying maths, there two chief routes you can follow:

  • Utilising the services of an experienced, qualified tutor
  • Using a number of resources to teach yourself

Working with a tutor has many advantages:

  • A skilful tutor can select appropriate activities for you, whether you’re preparing for an interview, matric or varsity exams.
  • The comprehension of mathematics entails more than simply grasping theories: there are also thinking and deductive skills which a private tutor can unlock.
  • He or she will present you a solid maths programme to assist you to reach your desired outcomes.
  • The tutor will also have the academic background to include interesting topics, for example, the history of mathematics.
  • An experienced and qualified teacher would also be familiar with items which appear in the national course of work (curriculum).

Learning on your own can also hold numerous advantages:

  • You can dictate your own study tempo
  • Enjoy free online lessons
  • Solve maths problems in a relaxed way, using apps and games
  • Use interactive resources to test your understanding.

You won’t be able to measure your progress if you’re flying by the seat of your pants. You have to be organised, whether you’re working independently or with a teacher.

Learn Basic Maths on Your Own

If how to understand math is a challenge, the top way to learn would be by way of mnemonics and fun methods which may feed your desire to learn and to grow.

If that is so, then online classes may be the appropriate route to follow. They can:

  • Improve your memory
  • Motivate you
  • Make learning maths easier.

There is a great deal of math exercises which can aid your recall of information. This is definitely a boon in topics like decimals, derivatives, factorisation, percentages or calculus.

woman typing on laptop keyboard
Your computer may be your greatest resource when studying maths. (Source: Unsplash)

Exercises like these will give you a boost on any level:

  • Primary school learners can study numbers and learn to tell time
  • High school learners preparing for matric
  • Varsity students encountering applied maths for the first time
  • Timeless games like sudoku, which trains the memory and encourages logical reasoning
  • More complicated maths puzzles
  • Games to help review what you’ve learnt
  • Revision games online when it’s exam time.

Online, there are numerous tools at your fingertips, literally:

  • Maths classes online
  • Specialised books
  • Dedicated maths websites
  • Audio CDs.

There are many cool ways to learn maths effortlessly!

Educational games, maths apps and websites can speed up your learning. For maximum benefit, include them in your exam preparation schedule.

The Top Ways to Learn Mathematics Independently

There three straightforward ways to learn maths rapidly:

  • Obtain knowledge
  • Check what you’ve learnt
  • Revise to consolidate.
angled building
Maths has applications in many varied disciplines, such as architecture. (Source: Unsplash)

You must formulate a study plan to remain on track when learning decimals, geometry, calculus or symmetry.

This is important, particularly if you’re working on your own:

Ascertain, with your tutor’s help, what level you’re at. Soon, you will know whether you understand trinomials or not.

  • Make a list of your weaknesses and strengths: adjust the way you learn to suit your learning style - aural or visual. Word problems may be easily understood by an aural learner; while a visual learner may shine at geometry or interpreting graphs.
  • Check whether you have fully understood maths topics, like logarithms, fractions, symmetry, algorithms and calculus, by using maths exercises online.
  • Create revision exercises after completing each chapter. Working through them will help you identify the areas of work you understand well and those that require extra time

Both a private maths session and a classroom lesson have the same goal in mind - to improve your understanding and proficiency in a particular maths topic:

  • Problems: boundary function, binomial distribution, standard deviation, exponential functions, etc.
  • Logic: perimeters or quadrilaterals scalar products
  • Calculations: quotients, fractions, subtraction, division, multiplication or vectors.

Is there a way to successfully learn mathematical rules and formulae?

While there is no easy answer as to how you become a maths guru, the answer lies in what aspects you are studying.

Be confident, utilise mind maps and restate problems in a way that you can understand them. Also expressing the sums out loud will aid you in solving them.

Preparing for an exam like at matric or varsity level, can be quite unnerving.

If you’re thinking of studying on your own, it may still benefit you to enlist the services of a mathematician to show you a good study method.

There are ways to make the study of maths simpler, with or without a teacher.

All it requires of you is to be organised and committed and success will be yours!

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Career teacher turned writer. Passionate about family, running, and the great outdoors.