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Algebra for Beginners – Strategies to Make Learning Algebra Simple
When you consider that the failure rate in 1st year algebra is now, and always has been, around 50%, it seems impossible to simplify learning algebra. Fortunately, there are people who know how to conquer algebra; and there has been a lot of research into why algebra seems so problematic. There is hope! We tend to like the things we do well, and there are strategies that will lead you to success in algebra. As your success increases, the algebra will start to seem simple.
Strategies to simplify learning algebra:
1. Start with a solid foundation in multiplication and fractions. In fact, knowing the basic multiplication facts is the number one indicator of success in algebra.
If your skills are weak, get a tutor early to work on just those skills. If you can start the algebra course with this solid foundation, you’re well on your way to finding algebra easy to master.
2. Expect to have to work harder. The University of Chicago conducted a study in the 1980s to determine how much material in math textbooks was being revised in relation to new knowledge. The results of their study showed that, assuming a grade 1 math textbook is 100% new material, from grades 2 through 8 each math text contained 75% revision material and only 25% new material – usually introduced during the finals. quarter of the school year. Amazingly, from Algebra 1 textbooks, these percentages completely reversed. Algebra students have always struggled with the amount of new material presented and the speed with which it is processed.
If you start algebra class understanding this fact, you cannot be caught off guard. Warned is warned!
3. Read each lesson, do your homework and study for the tests – ALL LOUD! Studying out loud dramatically improves the speed and depth of your learning. Speaking out loud adds hearing to the senses you use, and any hesitation in your speech quickly shows what you don’t really understand. Don’t underestimate the power of this trick!
4. Memorize the formulas as soon as you encounter them and learn to say the formulas like words. Use flash cards to learn both the formula and how to read it. For example, A = 1/2 bh is the formula for the area of a triangle. It should be read as “The area of a triangle is equal to half the base of the triangle multiplied by the height of the triangle.”
5. When your teacher gives you a shortcut, PAY ATTENTION and learn to use it. For example, solving equations with fractions is not easy. Learning to eliminate denominators greatly simplifies the work. So while it’s not a necessary step for solving equations, it’s an interesting step to learn.
6. Make your homework a study tool for the final exam. SHOW ALL WORK! Write yourself notes explaining why you chose a particular method. If you make a mistake in your assignment, explain in your assignment what happened – what you should have done differently.
7. Think about how you would take the test. As you progress through a chapter, pretend to be the teacher. Think about whether a fact needs to be tested and what questions you would write.
8. Teach someone else. The best way to learn something is to teach it. The “someone else” can be a teddy bear or your cat. Simply cover the material as if you were teaching it.
In conclusion, understand that algebra is a core set of skills that will be needed for ALL future math lessons. You can’t pick and choose what to learn. You have to learn everything and be able to explain it to others!
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