4 Ways to Improve Maths Scores

by Grace Dickins

Maths is a topic rooted in logic and formulas, but for those that struggle with certain concepts, it can be as confusing as learning a new language from scratch. If you've taken exams and achieved a lower score in math than you'd hoped for, you may be anxious to explore your options for bringing it up. Studying more, or harder, may help, but it's important to remember you probably did this in the first place and it still resulted in that low score. The trick to boosting your maths score is to expand your methods, not necessarily your knowledge or memorization skills.

Play a little leapfrog

On every maths test, there will usually be at least a handful of problems that you know instinctively or can work out in a minute or two. If you're able to progress through a test or section without answering each question in order, read through and answer these "gimme" questions before tackling harder ones. The idea behind this is that some students will run out the clock trying to puzzle through the hardest problem, then hastily rush through and mismark the remaining answers that they would have easily passed otherwise.

Find the wrong answers

Unless your test format punishes you for attempting but still failing a question, answering every question is important. If finding the right answer is an uphill battle, find the wrong one(s) first. In multiple-choice questions, there are usually at least one or two answers that are fairly obviously incorrect, and for each of these you find, your chance at a right answer increases significantly. Don't play "alphabet soup" and pick at random unless you absolutely have to!

Work backwards

Although the initial learning step in maths typically follows the same a to b path, that doesn't mean it's the only way to an answer, or even the best way. If you're stuck on a problem, treat each potential multiple-choice answer as the solution and work backwards. If you're unable to make a coherent problem out of the solution, move to the next until an answer becomes clear. If backwards doesn't work, try sideways, drawing out the problem visually to help aid comprehension as you solve it.

Flesh out undefined problems ("Choosing Numbers")

Wrestling with a problem that you don't understand is even harder when important information is provided. If a question has implied variables - e.g. "an amount", "the population" - swap in some numbers instead for clarity's sake. For percentage-based problems, 100 tends to work well and provides clear solutions to match up to answers.

No matter what your obstacle may be in maths, most of the time it can be overcome by an 80 percent methodology adjustment and 20 percent studying. Remember, the goal of a test is to not only determine if you're proficient at remember-and-rote mathematics, but truly understanding the underlying concepts. By improving your studying and test-taking habits, you'll ultimately be improving your relationship with math in class and beyond.

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Categories: maths