Many careers explicitly require the use of mathematics: For instance, computer programmers, accountants, and engineers can all expect to employ mathematical calculations and/or reasoning in their work. What students may not appreciate is how deeply the ability to interpret and apply mathematical knowledge is embedded into a wide variety of workplaces.

Nurses must calculate medication doses accurately based on their patient’s weight. Marketing and advertising professionals employ data analytics to strategize and plan their campaigns. Graphs and charts are used in many workplaces to summarize and present numerical information. From simple calculation to deeper understanding that supports quantitative reasoning, problem solving, and decision making, the ability to work with and understand numbers is an essential skill in today’s workplace.

Regardless of major or intended career, everybody can and should work to attain numeracy—the ability to apply math in day-to-day situations, whether in the workplace or at home.

Enjoying Mathematics

Math is a creative discipline and it should be approached like any other subject. Your brain does not discriminate what it can learn. We all have an innate capacity to learn anything. You may love the problem solving in mathematics. You may love how mathematics is the basis for so many subjects, one of which may be your major.

There are also people who do not enjoy puzzles and feel that solving mathematical problems is beyond their capabilities. These feelings are sometimes related to myths about mathematics, which separate those who enjoy it and those who feel incapacitated by it.

Math Myth #1: To Be Good at Math, You Have to Be Good at Calculating

On the contrary, mathematics is a science of ideas and patterns, not calculations. Stop! Read the problem. What is the problem asking you to do?

Math Myth #2: Getting the Right Answer is All That Matters

Understanding the process and the underlying concepts is the key. Although getting the right answer is important, understanding and working sequentially through a problem are even more important steps.

There are different ways of approaching problems. If you like step-by-step puzzles, you may enjoy solving math problems because there is a sequence of steps. However, if you remember concepts better than sequences, problem solving may initially be more difficult for you. Challenging yourself by doing math is a good way to engage both parts of your brain. Discussing the problems with others helps to engage both parts of your brain. This is part of the reason why working in groups is so important to your overall intellectual growth.

Math Myth #3: Only Certain People Are Good at Math

Everyone is capable of learning and excelling in mathematical concepts and problem solving. In addition, math learning is cumulative. It’s impossible to understand algebra well without first having a firm grasp of numbers. Similarly, calculus relies on the ability to solve algebra problems with confidence and ease.

So, success in mathematics isn’t about who you are, it’s about putting in the hard work and repetition that can make each level of math begin to feel like second nature. Only then can you move on to master the next level of mathematical knowledge.

Mastering Mathematics – Anyone Can Do It!

  • Do your math homework as soon as possible after class while the concepts are still fresh in your mind. The practice examples in your textbook and homework are essential to understanding the material.
  • The more you practice, the more confident you will feel in recognizing the patterns of math problems.

Keep Up with the Class

The topics taught in a mathematics class are cumulative. Almost all the concepts presented depend on what was taught in the preceding class. Prepare thoroughly for your next class by solving homework problems, reviewing the notes, and even looking ahead at course materials or the textbook.

Find a Study Partner or Group

With a study partner or group, you can keep each other accountable in completing assignments and attending class. You can question each other’s understanding of the material. Setting a regular meeting time will keep you up to date with the course work.

Do More Problem Sets

Doing more than completing the homework assignments will help you build a more solid mathematical foundation. You should spend two to three times as many hours studying as time spent in mathematics class. For example, for each four-credit course, you should study 8-12 hours a week outside of class. Practice leads to confidence.

Seek Help Early in the Semester

If you find yourself struggling with a problem or concept, find help right away. The Learning Center has math tutors and other tutoring options are available at the college. Make an appointment and keep it! You can also talk to your professor during office hours.

Addressing Learning Disabilities

Common and frequently undiagnosed learning disabilities include dyscalculia, a condition that affects the ability to acquire mathematical skills. These challenges can make learning math difficult, but with the right diagnosis, accommodations and strategies help a person with dyscalculia succeed. If you think you might have any kind of learning difficulty, or if you had an IEP in high school, please visit The Center for Student Accessibility in L-237.

Prepare for Your Upcoming Math Class

Math Prep Workshops provide incoming and current City Tech students with a preview of select mathematical concepts in the week prior to starting the full-length course during the semester. Workshops are offered for Quantitative Reasoning (MAT 1190), College Algebra and Trigonometry (MAT 1275 and 1275CO), Pre-Calculus (MAT 1375), Calculus I (MAT 1475), and Calculus II (MAT 1575), and are held the week before Fall and Spring semesters begin. Students who take Math Prep Workshops will gain a strong foundation of mathematical understanding and demonstrate improved performance and confidence for the course.

Interested students can email First Year Programs at for registration information.



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The Companion for the First Year at City Tech Copyright © by Office of First Year Programs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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