Remembering Math Formulas

I need to recall math formulas for tests and have spent way too much time studying. As soon as I memorize one, I forget the next or mix them up. Any suggestions?

Holly from Richardson, TX

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Information sticks better when it goes in via all modalities - i.e. - WRITING (copying, etc.) physical modality LISTENING ( hearing, repeating out loud) and

VISUAL (seeing - as in having flash cards, reading over material)

Each of us has a way we learn best. Focus on which of these modalities really works for you, but don't forget to reinforce the learning from other angles, as well - to really make the material STICK. I would also recommend study aids, like flash cards, etc. to carry around with you during the day to look at - and/or listening to a tape recorder if you have to drive. They will increase your study time. You also have to watch the point where you just can't absorb any more and are wasting your time. After that, it's more efficient to switch to something else, and come back to the difficult subject later. Make your study time pleasant. I got through high school algebra listening to classical music on the radio and records! And in college I drank a lot of hot tea in my dorm room.

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I read something about people who have incredible memories and have won contests for how many things they can remember - like the numeric value of pi up to 10,000 numbers. The article said that people who can memorize huge amounts of information take advantage of how your brain stores data and rather than just using the traditional "rote" memorization, they add other things to the item they memorize to help retain the memory. They suggested that if you pair a concept with a visual picture and even a geographical connection you remember it better. The example they gave had to do with remembering names. They suggested that to remember names - visualize the person, and even if you don't know where they are from make up a "story" about that person and either picture a place they are from that maybe rhymes with their name or even picture them in a distinct place - the room / location you met them in, or a made up place (roller rink, on a cloud, etc.-- something out there). You can even visualize a map to their house / town /etc. By pairing their name with an unrelated item particularly visuals and geography, you're more likely to remember it.

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Try doing some actual problems with each of the formulas, rather than just memorizing.

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It would have been helpful if you mentioned what formulas you are having problems with.

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I just could not remember adding and subtracting squares and cubes. Too many A's and B's. Then I switched the cube formula to S's and C's (Sum of Cubes) and D's and C's (Differences of cubes) and it worked.

Something as simple as switching letters solved the problem. But oddly enough, when I try to recall the formulas, my mind automatically puts them back in the A and B format.

Well, as long as I memorize the formulas I'm not going to argue with the results.

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I do a simple problem using the formula, then remember the answer, and that helps me. For example, I'm knitting lace for the edge of a 48" round tablecloth. Circumference=pi x diameter, so I need to knit about 150" of lace. I can recall that when I have to figure out the circumference of another circle.

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I know what you mean. As with most learning, part of math is about recalling the rules of the game.

I generally used the old school approach and write out the formula about 100 times. However, I think a better approach is to try to learn the derivation of each formula. I think if you intuitively know why/how the formula works, you can try to derive it on the spot if you forget the structure.

The only problem with this approach is it may take you an extra few minutes; therefore, you are now under more time pressure when taking a quiz.

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I'm nearly crying right now! I have tried everything but I can't remember any math formulas. I am going to fail my test. I'm going to have to repeat algebra, and everyone is going to tease me. I need some one to help me please




Editor's Note: Do not be afraid to talk to your teacher about this, he or she is there to help you learn. They can often set up a tutor or give you extra time. You should also talk to your parents. Keep up the hard work and I know you will succeed.

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Education Homework HelpNovember 1, 2007
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