Dealing with maths anxiety

If you feel anxious when you have to do maths, you’re not alone - maths anxiety is quite a common complaint. Don’t let it stop you from studying maths; instead use the tips below to help you deal with your anxiety.

Breathe and relax

When you feel anxious take deep breaths and concentrate on slowing your breathing and breathing correctly. Shallow, fast breathing means you’re not getting enough oxygen to your brain, so your brain won't work as effectively. This may make it harder to do maths.

Change your thinking

Change your thinking and get rid of negative thoughts. As Henry Ford once said, 'If you think you can or think you can't, you're usually right!'

So tell yourself you can succeed, and say it often - it doesn’t matter whether you believe yourself, it still works.

If you think you can't...think again - Angie LeVan - Psychology Today (opens in new window)

Maths myths - University of Alabama  (opens in new window)

Practice and study

You need to practice to improve your maths skills. Don’t just read your course material over and over, write examples down and work out the questions, or find other practice materials to do.

It can also help to memorise the basics such as times tables and formulas. If you know them well you won’t have to think about them.

Some websites that will help you practice your maths include:

Khan Academy Math (opens in new window)

BBC Skillswise - English and Maths for adults (opens in new window)

Ask questions

If there's something you're stuck on try turning it into a question. Then try to answer your question. This can help you view the information in another way. If you still need help ask your lecturer or you could try Googling your question – it’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.

Once you find out how to do something, remember to do some examples while the explanation’s still fresh in your mind. And do some more the next day to reinforce your learning.

Experience success

We all feel good when we do well, so go back to a section you think you can do and test yourself. When you are sure you can do that section well, move on to the section that was giving you problems.

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