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  1. #1
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    Default I can't get past stupid math errors

    I'm a pretty smart guy. I excel at physics, and do great in most subjects, but my brain just has issues with pure math. For some reason, it's like I have a mental handicap that makes it very difficult for my brain to catch mathematical errors in my work. I can understand the concepts very well, but when it comes time to do the calculations, i often choke somewhere, often in the most subtle of ways (like forgetting a negative, or multiplying by a random wrong number, messing up on simple addition, etc.). I study and I study, do homework just about every night, I go to tutoring sessions, but still... STILL I can't get around these kinds of errors that kill me on exams. You only get one shot, and one mistake takes all your hard work away. It just seems like I'm not one of those people who can go without making mistakes, and thus, can't excel at math. I have managed to change SO many aspects of my personality and thinking patterns through conscious effort, but I cannot fathom how to change this. It's like an impenetrable wall I just can't get through. I'm starting to think there really isn;t another side to this wall, like it's just the end of the road for my abilities.

    Does anyone have any sort of advice or methods that could help me?

  2. #2
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    If you have time remaining, check over your work one more time before submitting it.
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  3. #3
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Train yourself to form equations as equations rather than something that takes the form of 'problem and answer'.

    If you take the problem/answer approach, it can become easy to write something down just because you think you have to, because it's disconnected from the reason you are writing that.

    If you understand what something equates to and the reason why it equates, you're more likely to be correct because you're not answering for the sake of having an answer.

  4. #4
    morose bourgeoisie
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    Deep breathing. Seriously. Slow down by 10-15%.

  5. #5
    Glycerine
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    If you know the material well, you might just be thinking ahead too much on the steps and/or combining multiple steps into one when you do the calculations. That's what I usually got marked off on. Even my professor had a tendency to that. Remembering to do the problem methodically step by step worked rather well. Also writing reminders at the front of the test (check the negatives, pi=3.14) helps a lot.
    Last edited by Glycerine; 12-01-2012 at 06:47 PM.

  6. #6
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    my technique was to always come up with a story problem to go in the background as to why I was solving a problem... if bobby has x amount of radioactive materials in his suitcase and is stuck waiting in line at the airport for 1,250 years, how much radioactive decay will have occurred before he can carry out a terrorist plot?

    I don't like math without a purpose... I have to have SOME reason to be wasting my time

    don't know if that would work for you, but I'm MUCH more interested in a math problem if I have a reason for solving it... and that means that I'm more likely to pay attention to the details as well
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  7. #7
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    Train yourself to form equations as equations rather than something that takes the form of 'problem and answer'.

    If you take the problem/answer approach, it can become easy to write something down just because you think you have to, because it's disconnected from the reason you are writing that.

    If you understand what something equates to and the reason why it equates, you're more likely to be correct because you're not answering for the sake of having an answer.
    This. It also keeps you on your guard...

    The best remedy for terrible math skills is more practice. Like, to the point where you are boring yourself to death with math. You can, really and honestly, get by with pure memorization if you practice enough, even if you don't really understand the concepts and don't feel you ever will. I ended up passing Trig that way... I just didn't really understand the material (or my teacher's accent, brilliant though he was) and the class moved too fast for me. I spent probably 6 hours a day on math in a summer course.. I passed with a B, one of the few I've ever received, and I worked my ass off for it so I wasn't really upset about the mark at all.
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  8. #8
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    I do this too. Sucks working in a bank.

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