Learning algebra can be difficult for even the brightest of students. Furthermore, all levels of students, from junior-high school through adult, as well as many college students find it necessary to review algebra concepts in preparation for advanced courses such as calculus. For others, algebra review is an integral part of studying for standardized tests like the GRE.
When it comes to pre-algebra and algebra, solving for an unknown factor can be very intimidating for students who are used to performing more straightforward operations go math sixth grade. The concepts are often complex, and the confusing symbols may seem like a foreign language – unfamiliar and intimidating; but once students grasp the fundamental logic behind the language, solving equations becomes manageable. To improve and succeed with algebra, it’s important to build understanding from the ground up, so that students see algebra not just as a system of arbitrary rules, but as a language that makes sense. Algebra does not need to be a source of frustration! With the right tools, any student can learn how to approach an equation and solve it correctly.
If a student is struggling, it’s important to evaluate the reasons why they are not learning and find a learning style that they can embrace. What obstacles are interfering with their performance? Is it a lack of attention in class, trouble asking for help, a poor grasp of fundamental concepts, or a need for a visual learning component?
Because pre-algebra and algebra lays the foundation for more advanced math courses, it is especially essential that students understand each concept. When it comes to any math curriculum, missing even one lesson due to class absence, distraction, or just plain lack of comprehension can lead to poor grades on tests. Because all concepts depend on previously learned rules, students who have holes in their understanding of algebra can find themselves at a significant disadvantage. In many cases, what begins as frustration with one or two concepts develops into a general lack of confidence: students come to believe that algebra is simply impossible for them and respond by resisting the subject altogether. The embarrassment that comes from scoring poorly on tests and giving incorrect answers when called on in the classroom can lead to chronic under-performance, further discouraging the student and instilling a deep-seated anxiety about math.
It’s important to think of math as a kind of chain, with each lesson as a link: if a link is missed, the subsequent sections of the chain no longer make sense. There are many reasons students might miss a link.
More than half of math teachers have no specialized training in teaching math and many students feel their teachers move too quickly through the material, but find it embarrassing to ask them to repeat what has already been taught. Once students are liberated from the pressures of the classroom, many find their math skills immediately start to blossom.
A math tutoring program can help you fill in all the gaps so that comprehension will fall naturally into place and put a student on the road to success. Look for a tutor who is extremely adept at explaining difficult concepts in simple, accessible language. The environment should be comfortable so that when students don’t understand a concept the first time around, they can simply do the lesson over–without embarrassment–until all the steps are crystal clear. Algebraic concepts should be presented in an organized, logical manner. A good math educator or tutor often supplements learning with colorful graphics and diagrams, as well as examples of using algebra to solve real-life problems.
Tutors can also provide free practice exercises and tests with a huge variety of new problems to test current skills and build strength in the weaker areas. Students and parents both can keep track of progress and work together to bring up even very poor algebra grades up and give students the joy of finally “getting it”!
To maximize the effects of an algebra tutoring program, students should study at a time when they’re relaxed, such as in the morning before school or at night. Students should also be allowed to take a break in between periods of study, so attention and energy level remains high. When reviewing for an algebra test, there is simply no better way to study than to do practice problem after practice problem. Remember–good study habits are an important ingredient in success!