As a guest on TeenHelp you are only able to use some of our site's features. By registering an account you will be able to enjoy unlimited access to our site, and will be able to:

Connect with thousands of teenagers worldwide by actively taking part in our Support Forums and Chat Room.

Find others with similar interests in our Social Groups.

I've struggled with maths my whole life but it has really been the bane of my life these past few years. I had a breakdown in a maths class a few weeks before I was due to sit the exam and my teacher recommended that I drop the course due to the effect it was having on me (I was having panic attacks over going to class and couldn't sleep the night before my maths tests). I was happy with this decision and focused on attaining high grades in my other subjects instead as I knew that my dyscalculia (the maths equivalent of dyslexia) makes it near impossible for me to pass a maths class.

I just started my final year of high school and maths isn't on my timetable (even though I requested to resit the maths course this year) and in all honesty I don't actually know what to do. I am sitting two advanced classes in French and history (which are the equivalent to doing as year's worth of study at university in my country) AND my other two classes are also worth a considerable amount in terms of academic achievement. * I already have four A's at national level (the equivalent to four GCSE A grades) on top of this and the exams I sat this year.

I have also done a lot in terms of community service. On top of my hobby of horse riding I volunteer for a charity group which visits lonely elderly people in homes and I am part of a model united nations group. I'm on the prom committee, the school newspaper team, the paired reading group (which helps dyslexic kids with reading skills) and I am in the process of running to be a house captain and a prefect. Also I speak two languages (Fluent in French and conversational in Italian). What I'm trying to say is that I have a lot of stuff on my record to put on my application! Academically my record is near perfect if you discount the fact that I don't have a real maths qualification.

My main question here is should I really try and sit a class which I am almost guaranteed to fail when I have good grades in all my other subjects and a lot of hours of volunteer work and solid references behind me? I have a meeting with my guidance teacher next week and honestly I am thinking of discounting maths all together and just leaving school without it. I've phoned and e-mailed a couple of universities (I want to study either history or politics with one of my languages) and some have said that they would consider me without a maths qualification and are simply looking for a minimum of four B-grades at higher level (which I am predicted to get) and a strong personal statement. My main question here is how necessary is maths? If I am searching a career which does not involve maths should I really be wasting my time stressing out over a subject which I am never going to use in my life?

I know this post is long but I'm unsure of what to do and I'd really appreciate your thoughts and advice!

*In terms of a career, I'm trying to keep my options open! I'd love to teach either modern languages or history or politics to high school students but failing that I'm looking into a job as a translator for businesses or a career in the field of politics (being a diplomat particularly appeals to me).

"We have the power to make this generation either the best generation in history or the last"- John F. Kenedy

Re: How necessary is maths? -
June 6th 2015, 02:37 AM

Well, I'd say the importance of mathematics probably depends on the career you are looking into. Maybe if your school has someone that teaches languages, history, or politics, you can talk to them about the type of math it takes. You can also ask people at the colleges are you are considering about what type of mathematics a translator or diplomat may need. I don't know how things work in Scotland, but here mathematics is required for general education, and the amount of math you need varies by major. Some people need a few classes, I only needed one due to where I placed. It may be worth looking into before you make your final decision, do a little research.

Re: How necessary is maths? -
June 6th 2015, 10:26 AM

Hey Rosie,

As Dez said, whether maths is necessary or not depends on your choice of career. You have obviously done a lot of other stuff both inside and outside of school, and I’m sure that will give you a lot to talk about in a personal statement. Depending on the course, some universities might be willing to take you on if all your other grades are good because you’ve been very proactive.

In terms of teaching, in England and Wales (not sure about Scotland, sorry) the two main routes are either an undergraduate degree that gives you Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) status, or an undergraduate degree in your subject area, then a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). These courses do ask for a B or C in GCSE or equivalent in maths. However, if you don’t have the GCSE you can pay to take an equivalency test instead. If applying to either type of these courses in England and Wales, you may have to sit an informal maths test at the interview stage, and from what I remember (yeah, I want to be a teacher too ) it was basic maths such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, fractions etc., nothing that needs a calculator or any other type of equipment, and no long equations either. For a better idea of what to expect, you can check out this.

I wouldn’t stress too much about it, as you could always re-sit the maths at some other point (a few of my friends needed a B in GCSE maths to get onto the PGCE course, so they had to re-sit whilst in university). It’s really good that you’ve talked to universities about this though, and I hope that the meeting with your guidance teacher helps.

Re: How necessary is maths? -
June 8th 2015, 12:42 PM

In my jurisdiction, all teachers now have to undergo literacy and numeracy tests during their studies (I have a lot of thoughts about that, for another time). This is in recognition of the requirements on any teacher, of any age student.

If you're looking for a career with no maths, I suspect you might be very limited. There is mathematics in just about everything - timetabling, scheduling, money handling, hours worked... it's just not always apparent or hard

So my next question - how much maths have you got under your (metaphorical) belt?
Is it enough for the careers you want to do? Bear in mind that you can always pick it up at a later stage, perhaps when you're not doing as much study it might be easier, or different teacher/course/place etc.

Also be really really clear on university entry. Again, not in your country, but over here a maths course isn't often required directly for university entry (but it is required for secondary school study).

Feel free to email/PM/VM/whatever me if you want. I'll answer as soon as I can.

Re: How necessary is maths? -
June 8th 2015, 08:30 PM

I live in the U.S. and I'm not that familiar with foreign education systems, but I'd say that you should know at least geometry, trig, and algebra up to "college algebra," because those are the types of math that you'll use the most in daily life. I agree with Mahray that those basic levels of math are very useful in most careers, even when it isn't apparent. For example, psychology requires understanding of statistics, so that one can interpret the results of psychology studies properly, and statistics requires a certain level of math.

Re: How necessary is maths? -
June 8th 2015, 08:50 PM

Not taking math isn't the end of the world. And by "math" I mean "real math" like algebra, geometry, calculus, functions etc. If you object to "real math" being classified as such, just think of it as math as we typically think of it, not basic math.

Basic math is sort of a necessity of life (calculating a budget, figuring out what percentage of a tip to leave a server, etc.). However, you don't really need to take advanced math classes to figure that stuff out. However, beyond that you don't really need to worry about it. There are a lot of career choices that won't require advanced mathematics. For example, I work in communications and no one really gives a crap if I understand calculus. Before that, I was working towards entering social work, another field where no one cares about how good at math I am.

The odd thing is that even a lot of BA (bachelor of arts) degrees require a statistics course, which you take during the program. For example, I studied sociology and that required statistics during my third year, but you didn't need high school math for it. However, I knew people who seriously struggled with it. I was sort of the freak who got high grades and loved stats. That said, in arts, they don't typically require it.

However, even though I think you can get around it and be highly successful and happy, like myself, you might also find yourself feeling limited. I only took a data management math class in my last year of high school and that meant I was unable to take psychology (BSc - the BA psychology didn't require math), biology, chemistry, etc. at a university level, which sucked for me cause I had originally wanted to study biology. Even at a college level, you typically need grade 12 math (or what ever you call your final year) to study things such as nursing or paramedic stuff. BUUUUUT (lots of those here) if you go to college instead of university, you can usually get in with an easier math, but ever province/state does it differently so I can't really explain how that'll be easier.

Any how, point is that there are so so so so so so so so so so so so so many career options that won't require math. You can get into tons of university and college programs that won't require math etc.... This is also a relief (in reverse) for all the people I know who sucked at English or history cause writing was their bane while math is ours.

I hope this reassures you.

Feel free to PM me if you ever need to chat or have questions

Re: How necessary is maths? -
June 8th 2015, 10:12 PM

Maths is particularly important at secondary school level here in Ireland. It's a compulsory subject in the Leaving Certificate (exams you take at the end of your last year of school) and, if you don't pass, you can't go to university unless you repeat your Leaving Cert the following year and pass maths. Even if the course you want to do has nothing to do with maths, you still have to pass maths to get into it.

While the importance of maths does depend on your career, I think we need to encourage more people to go into STEM careers. So, while I feel as if having to pass maths to get into college is harsh (like that's not to mention that our new maths curriculum is very difficult and poorly thought-out, meaning passing maths is quite hard even for students with a numeric aptitude), I do believe more emphasis should be placed on it. Because of the way maths is taught a lot of people end up developing a mental block towards it very early on, and that really needs to change because we need people with a high ability in maths.

"Looking at the stars; it's comforting to think how small we are in comparison."