# Dealing with Problems in Mathematics

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## Dealing with Maths Problems

The concept of calculations is unlikely to be a very pleasant thing to some people, the very mention of mathematics is something else on its own. There are students who dread Mathematics because they feel it is something too hard. Whereas complexities exist in Math at certain levels, they are all built on fundamental knowledge of the basics. How can you handle mathematical problems when you come across certain hard questions you seem not to be able to solve? There are ways to go about handling Math problems anytime you come across one. If you also dread Mathematics because of the background mind-set that it is a difficult subject or course, and you probably have it as a course you have to do, then you know it is important to find a way around that perceived hardness so you can be able to at least understand it when you need to and be able to solve problems in that line. In dealing with problems in Mathematics, you may want to apply some of the tips discussed below.

## Understand fundamentals

Mathematics is a progressive subject, the basic arithmetic of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication form a basis for more complex calculations. When you talk of BODMAS, it is also a fundamental principle in Mathematics which if not well understood or grasped, can affect some calculations you have to make. As you progress toward algebra, quadratic equations, polynomial, integration and differentiation, not understanding their very basis will make your being able to handle Mathematical problems in that area, so what you should seek first is to understand the fundamental Math concepts or principles that form the progression for the level of Math problem you are trying to solve. Once there is a problem with your understanding of the underlying calculations, rules or laws along the line of a topic in Mathematics, it will impact and limit your understanding of the advanced levels. You will need to take the time to study all that you need to in order to understand the topic, by the time you do this thoroughly, you are likely to understand the topic better.

## Work the question backwards

One way you can also deal with problems in Math is to try to work backwards. By this it means you know the solution or final answer you are supposed to arrive at, then you find a way of working backwards towards the problem from the expected answer so that you can track how the problem was solved. You can decide to use this method when you feel it is appropriate.

## Use a different formula

If you are solving a mathematical problem using one formula, and it is not giving you solution or you seem not to be making headway with the formula, you might need to change the formula you are using. Mathematical problems could have more than one formula, so you just try and search out if there is another applicable formula to solve that type of Mathematical problem. You might find that using that other formula gets the problem solved. So, when next you get stuck trying to solve that Math equation, try using another applicable formula.

## Try a different approach

What parameters or given values have you not used? You may need to look at the question you are attempting to solve and check the question well to see if there is a parameter you are not paying attention to very well. Maybe you need to take the question from a particular angle while you are using one particular one. Explore the values given to you.

## Questions are topical

Every question has an underlying topic. This means understanding topics is vital to deal with mathematics questions. Mathematics is different from other subjects in that it each topic needs to be understood. Something to also note is that some other topics are embedded in other topics. There are foundational topics – these are topics that come up when solving question from other topics. Some think when you can cram or know a formula, then you can solve questions in mathematics. What’s the use of knowing formulae and not being able to use it correctly? Ensure that when you know a formula, you also know how to understand it enough to apply it in the right situations.

When you are faced with a Mathematics question, read the question. Read the question so well as to understand all that the question is saying. When you read, try and understand the question. Interpret the question. If possible, visualize it. You can make sketches on a rough sheet. Don’t interpret the question as a predetermined interpretation in your mind. Let your mind be open and read the question, then the question will give you its own understanding. Understand the question as is. No bias. It is very important. This is where some people miss it. So just take the question as it is, don’t try to think that this or that is what the question should be meaning if you have not taken time to understand it.

## Interpret the question

After understanding the question, you can now interpret the question. Interpretation is way easier. You can even decide to rewrite the question in your own words, still stating the same thing but using your own words. Understand that there is always an aim for every question, you must try to understand what you are supposed to find. There is/are always(s) (an) unknown(s) to be found. The unknowns give a clue to which formula is suitable for a question or how a question is to be solved. After knowing which formula to use, then substitute the given parameters in the formula (for questions involving formulae). Apart from formulae, there are also laws in Mathematics which are guides. A question will inform which law(s) are needed to solve it. After all these are applied, the question is so easy like eating a bowl of jollof rice.

## Give it Time

Some questions might just be as naughty as they can be. Give it some time. Take a break, go and do something you like, then come back and solve.

Your perception about something is very important. It is key to have an open mind to handling these questions. If you think you can or you can’t, your mind accepts that and works according to your belief. Have an open mind that Mathematics is easy. Begin to see Math from a different perspective, if others can do it, then you can. Do this deliberately and prove it to yourself. Start from the simple problems, endeavour to make friends with Math, practice, practice, practice as many problems as you can until you master the concepts. Your mindset is very important, if you think you can, then begin to act in that consciousness.

## Let a friend explain to you

Sometimes, we just need someone to show us the way. Going to someone who understands it might be what you need to unlock the trick in the question.  It might be that you missed out something while trying to understand or you didn’t get the whole picture or it was a bit blurry to you. Another good thing about someone explaining is that we tend not to forget easily as it involves interaction with another person. You have your own target, to know and understand how to deal with some concepts, so be humble enough to meet anyone you know will be able to put you through, and don’t allow any negative thing to deter you from understanding what you should.