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Virtual Math Lab

Intermediate Algebra
Tutorial 1: How to Succeed in a Math Class


deskLearning Objectives

After completing this tutorial, you should be able to:
  1. Formulate a plan on how to approach your math class. 

WTAMU and Kim Seward are not responsible for how a student does on any test or any class for any reason including not being able to access the website due to any technology problems. We cannot guarantee that you will pass your math class after you go through this website.  However, it will definitely help you to better understand the topics covered. 



desk Introduction

This tutorial will give you some helpful suggestions on how you can be successful in your math class.  Hopefully this tutorial can convert some of you who are math atheists, or at least try to help you get rid of some of your math phobia nightmares.   Those of you who are lucky enough not to have a math phobia can also benefit from this tutorial.  Now it's time to check out the "Tips on How to Succeed in a Math Class"  listed below. 



desk Tutorial

Tips on How to Succeed in a Math Class

Yes, You Can Learn Math!!!

Note that these tips were written by Kim Seward and revised by A.P. 'Sissy' Campbell, tutor coordinator and counselor for Student Support Services at WTAMU, and Kim Seward.

Get a “can do” attitude:
If you can do it in sports, music, dance, etc., you can do it in math!  Try not to let fear or negative experiences turn you off to math.

Practice a little math every day:
It helps you build up your confidence and move your brain away from the panic button at test time.

Take advantage of your math class:
If you are a college or high school student, realize that most colleges and universities require at least college algebra for any bachelor's degree.  Some classes, like chemistry, nursing, statistics, etc. will require some algebra skills to succeed in them.  If you are getting a bachelor's degree, then chances are you are going for a professional job. Most professional jobs require at least some math. Granted, some more than others, but nonetheless math (problem solving, numbers, etc...) is everywhere. So make sure that you embrace your math experience and make the most of it.

Get help outside the classroom:
  • Go to your instructor’s office for extra help during office hours or by appointment.
  • Use the WTAMU Virtual Math Lab (http://www.wtamu.edu/mathlab) as a reference as you go through your class.  Anytime you need to see some more examples, want to go through some practice problems or want to take a practice test on an algebra topic, it is just a click away.
  • See if your school has any tutors in math. 

    WTAMU provides the following FREE tutoring services for WT students:

  1. Educational Services Tutoring

    • EST offers free one-on-one tutoring to all WT students in a variety of subjects including math

    • Located on campus: Student Success Center, 1st floor of Classroom Center


    • SMARTHINKING is an online tutoring service that WT has contracted with to provide free live one-on-one and offline web-based tutoring in a variety of subjects including basic math, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus I&II and stats for WT students. 

    • Located online: WT students can access this service by logging into WTClass and clicking on the SMARTHINKING link found on your WTClass homepage.

    • Online whiteboards equipped with math symbols and graphs are used to communicate between the math e-structors and students.  When posting a math question to SMARTHINKING, make sure that you type in the directions, the problem, how far you have gotten on the problem and your specific questions about it.

  • See if your school has a learning lab for math.  Here at WTAMU, we have a Math Lab located in Classroom Center 411.  It is a place where WT students can work on math homework and, as problems arise, get help.  The workers will be unable to sit with you one on one for long periods of time like a tutor, however they can help you work on specific questions.  Remember that they are not there to do your homework, but to answer specific questions that you have. There are also computer programs, internet connections, and videos in there to help you.

Attend class full time:
Math is a sequential subject.  That means that what you are learning today builds on what you learned yesterday.  Even problems based on a new math concept will need some old skills to work them.  (Think: Can you work problems with fractions if you don’t know the multiplication tables?)

Keep up with the homework:
It sounds simple but your time is limited, you have a job to go to, etc..  Think of it this way: No homework, no learning.  Homework helps you practice the applications of math concepts.  It’s like learning how to drive: the longer you practice, the better your driving skills become and the more confidence you will have on the road.  If you only read the driver’s manual, you’ll never learn to drive with confidence and skill.  We suggest you try some of the unassigned problems, too, for extra practice.

Try to understand the math problems: 
When you work homework problems, ask yourself what you are looking for and how you are going to get there.  Don’t just follow the example.  Work the problem step-by-step until you know why you are doing what you are and have arrived at the solution.  If you follow the what, how, and whys, you’ll know what to do when you see a similar problem later.

Use index cards to study tests: 
Here’s how you do that: When studying for a test, make sure you can understand the problems on each math concept as well as work them.  Then make the index cards with problems on them.  Mix the index cards (yes, shuffle the cards to mix them up) and set the timer.  Start working the problems in each card as it is dealt to you.  Oh, yeah, hide your textbook!  This will simulate a math test taking experience. 

Ask questions in class:
Don’t be ashamed to ask questions.  The instructor WILL NOT make fun of you.  In fact, at least one other person may have the same question.

Ask questions outside of class: 
OK, so like most people, you don’t want to ask questions in class, OR you think of a question too late.  Then go to the instructor’s office and ask away.

Check homework assignments: 
Make sure that when you get your graded homework back you look over what you got right as well as what you missed. 

Pay attention in class: 
Math snowballs.  If you don’t stay alert to the instructor’s presentation, you may miss important steps to learning concepts.  Remember, today’s information sets the foundation for tomorrow’s work.

Don’t talk in class: 
If you have questions, please ask the instructor.  The information you get from classmates may be mathematically wrong!  And if it isn’t related to math info for this class, save it for outside the classroom. 

Read the math textbook and study guide: 
Yes, there’s a reason why we ask you to spend all that money on them.  If you look carefully, you will see that your book contains pages with great examples, explanations and definitions of terms.  Take advantage of them.


desk Practice Problems

In all of the other tutorials at this College Algebra website, we will have practice problems with links to the answers for you to go through.  Since this tutorial did not have any math concepts there will be no practice problems for this tutorial only.

We do suggest that you go back to the top and reread the tips on how to succeed in a math class and think about which one(s) will help you the most to be successful in your math class.



desk Need Extra Help on these Topics?

In most of the other tutorials at this College Algebra website, we will have links to other sources that help with the topics on its respective webpage.  Since this tutorial did not have any math concepts there will be no links. 


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Last revised on June 10, 2011 by Kim Seward.
All contents copyright (C) 2002 - 2011, WTAMU and Kim Seward. All rights reserved.