Monday, February 6, 2012

Why am I so bad at algebra?

I was encouraged--over the past few weeks I have actually bee doing pretty well with my algebra homework, usually making either  100 or in the 90's somewhere.  My overall score for the class was a 95.

Then I took my first test.

It was like a flashback to that first college algebra class I took--I just couldn't remember everything that I had learned so far.  I had even studied several hours before taking the test!  For some reason my brain simply refuses to hold onto that information.  I made a 70 on my test, which brought my overall score for the class down to 73%.  Ugh.

I just want to make a B this time.  That's all I ask.  Just a little B.


Steven Maierson said...

You have two problems when it comes to the test, most likely.

1. You stress yourself out (test taking anxiety) and over prepare so much that you lose all that information you were holding onto. It's generally recommended that you study a little each day and then not study in the 24 hour span before a test.

2. Contextualization. Algebra doesn't make sense out of context, it's a very theoretical form of math (which is why it makes sense to me) that lays foundations for some other mathematical concepts in upper-level math. You probably would do fine in a geometry class (which I struggled through in high school) where everything is logically practical, line A and line B sorts of things.

I've met few people who do well in both classes that aren't math majors. I'll tell you this though, through observation, this is what I've seen with math: Algebra people typically do well at things that are theoretical (language arts) or more abstract in there disciplines; Geometry and stats people do well with anything that is meticulous and literal (sociology, physics), things that follow a set pattern and can be explained easily.

This doesn't hold true 100% (or even 60%, I'm sure) of the time, but it generally works. Destress, take your mind of the math, spend 30 minutes or so a day to work on examples from the book to get practical experience, then go relax. No cram sessions (always, always, always bad for your ability to retain and recall).

When the test rolls around next you should do better.

Bessie M. said...

Thanks, Steven. :D I think I am an odd mix of things when it comes to academic fortes. I love (and have always been good at) language arts and art in general. However I am also very good with music and music theory which is extremely mathematical (practical, logical, patterned) in nature. You are right in that algebra is so abstract that it escapes my understanding. However geometry was not much better for me!

I will definitely take your advice in studying and see if that helps. I have been diligently doing my practice sets each day. Perhaps I should make myself go back and do a few exercises from each chapter every day or something. I have been making 100's on my homework for each chapter because I remember the information at the time, but it is just when I have to recall everything I've learned so far that I crash and BURN.

Anywho, thanks for the advice--I'll let you know how it goes! :D