Many people that attend a community college are older than traditional students. For various reasons they have returned to school after a being in the workforce for many years and while they bring intelligence, experience and maturity to the classroom, they are often lacking in math skills. Most adults use very little math after high school or college so the thought of taking an algebra class or even a pre-algebra class may instigate anxiety.
Community colleges are well aware of how stressful math can be for older students and typically have math placement tests for all incoming students. If it’s been a while since a student has last taken a math course or if they scored low on the math placement test they may feel intimidated or anxious when beginning a new math class. For these students the following strategies are recommended:
- Sign up for a developmental math course. Most colleges will have remedial math classes to help students catch up to basic algebra. These classes start at a very low level and work up in difficulty.
- Find a math tutor. There is no shame in admitting you need help with math. Even students from countries that traditionally excel in math need assistance. From A-Star Tuition Agency to Chicago Math Tutors there are options for every student.
- Join a math study group. Study groups are usually formed by class members as a way to help each other develop the math skills necessary to do well in the class.
- Practice. Practicing math problems is a critical step in overcoming math anxiety. Math.com and thatquiz.org are two very good websites with free math resources and practice tests. Another solution is to buy course outlines such as those offered by Schaum’s. Just make sure to do all the practice quizzes. Doing the practice questions and tests is the best way to gauge math proficiency.
- When looking over your work from quizzes and tests pay particular attention to errors made with parentheses and other signs. These are very common mistakes that are simple to correct and have a direct impact on test scores.
Once your math skills improve the anxiety over math exams will be mostly overcome. Greater confidence with math can open up additional college programs that would not have been previously considered. Returning to school should be an exciting time and overcoming math anxiety will help clear a path so that you can more easily reach your life’s goals.