Nobody really likes studying for a math test—or most other exams for that matter. Taking a test has about the same appeal as doing chores or going to the dentist. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make studying a bit more fun. These seven tips will help take the edge off your next study session:
You don’t have to join any official mathlete teams, but creating an informal group of friends to discuss and challenge each other is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Agree to study math tables, do practice problems and challenge each other with questions and flash cards. Have snacks and drinks available, so that you can get to the business of math without worrying about your hungry stomach.
The most obvious way to make studying fun is to turn it into some sort of game. You could get a big dry erase board out and keep a tally of how many problems you and your friends get right. Award prizes for first, second and third places—people tend to do better if they know there’s a prize waiting for them.
Giant Flash Cards
Math is full of tables, equations and definitions to memorize. Make a big stack of flash cards of all the things you have to commit to memory. If you’re an artsy type, spend time making them colorful. If English is your thing, come up with little poems to remember formulas. During the week before your exam, keep that stack on you at all times. When you master a card, you can leave it at home or give it to a friend. By the end of the week, your stack should get smaller and smaller, until you have it all in your head.
Word Problem Acting
Word problems are a favorite for math teachers, partly because they’re similar to math problems you might have to do in reality. (Well, maybe not the one about the two trains at different speeds…) The best way to make word problems fun is to read the questions out loud with your friends. Have someone jot the numbers on the board to turn the words into numbers and formulas. You can even turn your word problems into little theatrical skits. If you have an acting bug, you could post your performance online so the rest of the class can benefit from your work.
Use your new found math skills to teach others the beauty and grace that is math. If you have younger siblings, teach them how to wrangle a word problem. Besides passively reading something, the best way to learn is to actually do the problems on paper. The simple act of writing, erasing, crossing things out and then teaching them to someone else will make remembering easier. The more you teach, the more you’ll learn.
Turn your notes into a slideshow presentation and share it with your friends the next time you meet for a study session. Spice it up with your favorite inside jokes. Who knows, maybe you can even get some extra credit if you show it to your class.
There are literally hundreds of traditional and educational video games that deal exclusively with math. Teaching with video games sounds risky, but you’d be surprised how much better you might learn with this format.
Like most things in life, math doesn’t have to be the dreaded chore people complain about all the time. In fact, it can be fun if you use a bit of creativity and imagination. If you make it a game, you’ll be more likely to stick with your study sessions and do better on your exams. Remember, the majority of your success in math won’t be from memorization or natural ability. It will be from practice. Having a positive attitude can help you get there that much faster.