Q&A: How to Improve Math Skills

Hi, do you have any advice on how to improve my math skills/grades, I’m an average math student I usually score in the 80’s sometimes I slip up and get mid 70’s. 8th and 9th grade I basically had million different math teachers, who had no idea where they were in the curriculum so my math skills have suffered immensely. Please help!

Good for you for working hard to address your academic struggle! This is unfortunately a very common problem amongst American high school students. Schools often switch math curricula and don’t complete whole math sequences which can leave students feeling confused. A few years of this will leave a number of students far behind their peers without these same holes in their knowledge.

The internet is an absolutely wonderful place for students who want to learn something on their own. There a number of resources, ranging from completely free to very expensive, that provide math instruction from counting to multivariable calculus and beyond.

Free Resources

  • Khan Academy — Salman Khan, an MIT and Harvard graduate, makes videos on a variety of subjects that allow students to learn independently. Khan Academy has received the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has a sequence of math videos that teach students every skill in a typical US math curriculum. These videos are coupled with extensive exercises that come with instant feedback. In addition, Khan provides free SAT preparation that explains every math problem in the Official SAT Study Guide 1st Edition.
  • Virtual Schools — Many states have free, public virtual schools. These schools will often allow students to enroll in a course in any subject at any point during their K-12 education even if they are enrolled in other schools. You could begin with a course in which you started feeling confused like pre-algebra and then progress through the curriculum. Examples of such virtual schools include Florida Virtual School and North Carolina Virtual Public School.
  • Open Courseware — MIT’s Open Courseware provides instructional content on advanced subjects, including math. This program would be more suitable for a student seeking to learn mathematics more advanced than that of a high school curriculum.

Paid Resources

  • Gruber’s Complete SAT Math Workbook — This SAT book provides a comprehensive overview of mathematical concepts beginning with pre-algebra. It will both improve your math skills and prepare you for the SAT. $12.
  • Kumon Learning Centers — Though I’m typically wary of expensive tutoring programs, these tutoring centers do an excellent job teaching students math concepts through calculus and exist all across the world. The program ensures that students full master a skill before moving onto the next. Students coming out of Kumon will undoubtedly have a solid foundation in math. $110/month

There’s no one resource that’s best. Formal courses may be better for students who have difficulty staying motivated over a long period of time. Independent learners may prefer a less structured program like the Khan Academy. Some students may find that a combination of some or all of these programs works best.

Have any questions? Email Hope at hbrinn@thecollegiateblog.com or use the comment box below!