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5 effective math study tips and 10 study sets for improving academics

Quizlet HQ & Quizlet in Education ·
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Quizlet is proud to partner with real students to showcase authentic voices on our blog. This guest post is by Trevor Mahoney, a Finance and Management Information Systems major at Santa Clara University.

Math is one of the oldest academic topics and has given rise to many different fields of academia. It can also be one of the most difficult and frustrating topics to study. In fact, a Turkish study found that school-aged children considered mathematics the most important subject—and the most difficult—subject to learn.

Whether you are younger and just starting out with math, or are at the collegiate level and studying differential equations and advanced topics, there are a few study tips that can make the process easier.

1. Take notes meticulously

When it comes to math, missing notes can hurt your studying. Trying to solve problems without the foundational knowledge necessary to do so is very difficult.

Palm Beach State College outlines a simple, yet effective math note-taking system:

  • Copy all information written down on the board.
  • Repeat every step in your head and solve as much as you can mentally.
  • Make note cards (or Quizlet study sets) that outline each step involved in solving a problem.

Math is challenging to learn as it is. Ignoring the foundations will make the process harder. Take as many notes as possible to give yourself the tools to succeed.

2. Practice as much as possible

In math, it’s rare that you can just stare at the board and understand what’s written there. Practice is the key to becoming better at mathematics. Just attending classes and paying attention isn’t enough. You also have to copy the practice problems a teacher provides and try to solve them during class.

This way, if any questions come up, you can ask them right away. Math is an active subject, and the only way to pass is with hands-on experience.

3. Follow the 3-2-1 method

Perhaps one of the best study methods for math, as well as other subjects, is the 3-2-1 study method. This strategy is as follows:

  • 3 days before your test: Go over terms and formulas and do a couple of review problems.
  • 2 days before your test: Spend a short amount of time going over the material from the previous day and then do another, long round of practice work.
  • 1 day before your test: Finally, on the last day before your test, review your study guide and do one problem for each formula or term.

Using this strategy will help you to segment your studying and give you a better grasp on the different types you will be tested on.

4. Understand the underlying concepts

As we’ve mentioned, getting better at math is all about practice—but the right practice is key. Spend time understanding the steps involved in different math problems. As a field, mathematics is cumulative and builds on previously learned topics.

A failure to understand those foundational or baseline topics will make solving current math problems much more difficult. Focus on memorizing mathematical principles, but also practice foundational concepts before diving into complex problems.

This can be done by making flashcards that help you stay fresh on foundational topics or formulas.

5. Set aside adequate time

Finally, make sure you are setting aside enough time to study math. Solving challenging problems can take hours if you need to refer to your notes.

Math is not an easy subject to cram in one night. Be sure to take breaks in your studying, but prepare for tests at least a week in advance. This will give you enough time to properly study all the formulas and problems that you may be tested on.

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10 math study sets to build your knowledge

You may have noticed a theme underlying all these math tips: Building a foundational knowledge of formulas and terms. The best way to do this is to use helpful study sets that can help you quickly review key information.

Below are 10 effective study sets that range in complexity and topics:

Algebra sets

1. College Algebra Formulas

This relatively short 58-card study set couples written formulas with their formula names, making it a helpful resource to study from both sides. It covers lower-level college algebraic formulas, rather than complex calculus-type mathematics.

2. College Algebra Final Formulas

The second set on this list is shorter, at 30 terms, and is basically a speed version of the first set. If you’re crunched for time, use this set to brush up on your terms quickly.

Simple Math Review

3. Basic Math Vocab

Math isn’t all about formulas, and this 43-term set offers dynamic vocabulary based questions that build a great foundation for any math student.

4. ASVAB Math Formulas

The polar opposite of the previous set, this set focuses exclusively on shapes and size formulas. The terms tend to be more geometric than algebraic, but there is still a mix of both.

5. Basic Math Facts (Addition)

This massive, 156-term set covers basic addition that can help younger students brush up on their quick addition skills.

6. Business Math - Formulas

This helpful formula-based study set is centered around business math formulas. Those involved with the business school of their college will find this set particularly useful.

7. Basic Math Facts: Multiplication

Similar to the fifth set, this 77-term set covers basic addition and is a great review for younger students trying to increase their multiplication speed.

Geometry Math Terms and Formulas

8. Math (Geometry)

Given that geometry is one of the most commonly learned types of math, it’s fitting that this huge 143-term set covers everything from geometric definitions to complex formulas. Anybody of any age can gain use from this study set.

9. Geometry

This other large geometry study set focuses on definitions, but includes pictures and formulas where appropriate. For those who absorb information better through writing instead of pictures, this set may be of benefit.

10. Geometry Final

Finally, the last set on our list is a 100-term geometry set that focuses mainly on definitions and concepts such as geometric proofs.

Regardless of your math level, these five tips and 10 study sets can help you take your learning to the next level. Math is a complicated subject, but using the right tips and study resources can make the process smoother.

Get out there and start learning more effectively today!


Trevor Mahoney is wrapping up his last year at Santa Clara University where he studies Finance and Management Information Systems. He has been an avid reader his whole life, which evolved into a passion for writing while he studied abroad in New Zealand last year. He is currently searching for a post-college job and hopes to work at the intersection of business and technology.

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