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Greenfield Community College

Math anxiety

What are the symptoms of math anxiety?

  1. PANIC - Students have a feeling of helplessness. They feel that a brick wall has come down and they will never do better and have reached their limit in math.
  2. PARANOIA – Students have a feeling that everyone knows the answer except them. They feel they have been faking math for years and everyone knows it.
  3. PASSIVE – They have an attitude that either they have a math mind or they don’t.  There is nothing they can do to become better in math. They sit back and don’t take action.
  4. LACK OF CONFIDENCE – They don’t trust their intuition. They rely on memorizing rules instead of understanding the concepts.

Tips for overcoming math anxiety

  • Realize that you are not alone! Many people dislike or feel anxious about math.
  • Become aware of where your math anxiety originated from. Think back to where you first had difficulty with math.
  • Recognize your self-defeating talk and correct it to a more positive talk.
  • Try to avoid teachers/tutors/peer/family who aren’t helpful or supportive.
  • Trust your instincts and don’t put down your approaches to a math problem. Do math in a way that you are comfortable with. Remember there is more than one way to do a math problem.
  • Ask questions. This is the way towards better understanding. Besides, other students will be glad you asked.
  • Know the basics. In most cases you need to know math from previous courses. If you don’t remember, go back and review.
  • Don’t go by memory alone. Try to understand the concept. If you are anxious, your memory is the first thing to go.
  • Decide what type of study environment works best for you (quiet place at a table, or music in the background in a comfortable chair, etc.).
  • Get help. If you are having difficulty figuring out a concept, seek assistance from your teacher/tutor/peer.
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