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Unhappy Why am I so bad at math? - August 18th 2016, 03:34 AM

Ive been feeling so bummed out lately.
You see, I really want to improve on math. I don't even like math. But I feel this urge that I really do want to get better at it.

However, in algebra I usually forgot something the day I learned it. When i studied something for 6+ hours and then finally felt that I understood it, I fail the quiz. Then later I review the material. Then I fail another quiz, on the exact same topic. I ask for help, and I feel that I understand and thank them. But then later I fail another quiz... again.

If it wasn't for homework (which is graded by completion) I would have probably failed because I got an F on almost every single quiz.

You see, I also was put into algebra 1 honors in 8th grade. But I was failing every single assignment, doing so badly that I was forced to drop out of the class after almost a full year of struggle from trying to check over my homework and watching math tutorials.

I've never had pre-algebra before, for some reason they placed me into algebra 1 right away and I guess thats where that got me.
I managed to pass this year in 9th, but I don't feel satisfied and feel that Ive learned nothing.

I started practicing on apps on my phone. Little things like a game where you must answer tons of little math problems before time runs out, to exercises where I drilled times tables into my head. I was actually enjoying it and felt that I was improving, at least a little.

My friend on the other hand is a total math whiz. He could add by the age of 1. In kindergarten he taught himself how to multiply. In kindergarten he did an entire workbook for that grade on his own for fun, then did an entire 1st grade workbook for fun. And by 5th grade he was multiplying 20 digit numbers times 20 digit numbers without a problem for fun.

He can solve algebra problems faster than I can write them down- no joke. He once figured out a kind of problem he'd never seen before in 3 seconds just by looking at it.

He's helped me with my math. I am extremely grateful and I cannot ask for a better friend, he means everything in the world to me. But here I am, now about to enter 10th grade... unable to multiply a 5 digit number and a 5 digit number together without easily making a mistake.

On average he solves something in a minute, for me it takes anywhere between 10 minutes to 3 hours for one problem.

I might sound jealous. I admit that I am a little jealous. Which makes me feel like trash because I should not be jealous, its wonderful that he's great at math and I really admire him for it, its amazing. But I also feel that I am way too slow at math for my age.

Im very sorry if this has been a pointless rant but... I just had to get it out there.
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Celyn Offline
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Re: Why am I so bad at math? - August 23rd 2016, 01:02 PM

Hey there,

Sorry to hear that you aren't doing well in maths, despite your efforts! I know it can be very frustrating and disheartening when you don't improve.

However, I'm wondering if perhaps you are spending too much time focusing on maths? When we revise, it's best to do it in short bursts of 20 minutes or so with breaks in between. This is because it can be very difficult to maintain concentration for longer than that on the same subject. So rather than get bored, distracted and frustrated, try to keep revision sessions brief.

It sounds like you are able to understand algebra when you review your work, or someone explains it to you, but not when you do the quizzes. I'm wondering if perhaps this is because you may find it difficult or confusing to remember the steps to solve algebra problems? Perhaps breaking down the algebra problems and remembering what you have to do step by step might help?

I'm not sure about your education system, but perhaps the fact that you didn't take pre-algebra might be the reason behind your difficulties? Do you struggle with other areas of maths, or just algebra? It may have been that if you did relatively well in maths in general, your predicted grades would've meant you not taking pre-algebra. At the same time, everyone has certain areas that they find difficult...perhaps you can mention this to your teacher?

It's great that you have been practicing with apps and that you have enjoyed doing it. I find that when we enjoy things, it helps us learn too. As for your friend, try not to compare yourself. We are all different with different strengths and weaknesses. Unless your teachers have picked up on your difficulties, then you probably aren't as slow as you feel. I'm sure we all get feelings like that, when we feel we aren't good enough, but try not to let it get to you so much. I'm sure you have many other talents regardless of algebra!

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Re: Why am I so bad at math? - August 23rd 2016, 01:36 PM

Hey there!

Sorry that you're having such a tough time with maths, but I think the main problem is either that you were put into a class you weren't ready for (which meant that you missed out on building your foundational maths skills) or you're studying maths for too long and in infrequent bursts. The apps on your phone, though fun, may not be the best determiner of whether you're improving unless they're the exact kind of thing you're struggling with. It's really common to be okay at other areas of math and bad at one or two. The fact that you can understand how to do the problems when other people explain it to you shows that you have the basics down. You can follow what they say. So what might be useful is to write down the steps they use and go over these once a day. When you're comfortable enough, take a similar question and use the same steps to see if you can handle doing that type of question with different numbers. Then eventually move on to doing that type of question totally on your own!

I hope this helped and feel free to PM me if you ever need to talk!

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Re: Why am I so bad at math? - August 23rd 2016, 02:09 PM

Please don't compare your math skills to his, his math skills are NOT the norm. Some people are just better with numbers. I also always had to work at math, and I think it was actually Algebra that left me behind. I had mono for most of the year and when I came back after months my teacher just kind of left me in the hallway to teach myself. I agree it sounds like you were put at a level you weren't ready for yet and I think it's odd they had you skip pre-algebra. I also don't remember ever having to multiply two 5 digit numbers without a calculator, so that seems strange to me. Although I know math has changed a lot since I was in school.

When you practice, do you make sure to write everything down? Something that helped me was not only writing out all my work, but writing out the steps before I even started. It's great that you have started practicing with apps. Have you tried seeing if you can go to an actual math tutoring place? It's great your friend helps but it's possible he doesn't know how to actually teach it as well as someone with some more experience in the teaching aspect. Have you talked to your teachers about how you're struggling? It's also possible you're just not a great test taker or need more time on them and your teachers might be able to help with that.

"We all have battle scars, Finn. Suck it up and build a brace for yours."
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