All of mathematics index and
home page The ABC Study Guide, University education in plain English alphabetically indexed. Click here to go to the main index, or the ABC image for the cover the ABC Study Guide home page home page to all of Andrew
Roberts' web site
ABC Mathematics

Maths tips for anxious students

An experienced student is talking to a new student who is choosing courses. The new student says she/he is weak at mathematics and statistics and is considering choosing courses that do not contain them. This is the advice that the experienced student offers. The advice has been prepared by students taking a course that contains no mathematics.

Be positive Books Computer Help Contributors Do not panic Face your fear Good Study Guide Graphs Look longer mean, median, mode and range Not what I do Now I like it Pythagoras Speak up SSC2001 Statistics for the Terrified Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Student Representatives ABC Mathematics ABC Statistics

I would not advise choosing modules simply because they do not require any mathematical or statistical skills, because at some stage in your degree you will have to face this fear and conquer it. So perhaps it is better to get it over and done with, so that you no longer need to avoid it.

Before I started at Middlesex I completed an Access Course which included compulsory mathematics. I found this very daunting because I tried to pass GCSE maths three times and failed. The maths that was taught on the Access Course started at a very basic level. It was surprising just how much I remembered. It was compulsory to sit a maths exam and I failed this miserably, but fortunately it was possible to re-sit and after proper revision I got a very good mark. Therefore, I have learned that it is possible to overcome your anxieties if you face them. It was also necessary to quantify data for particular assignments, this included statistical analysis. I found this very enjoyable and I think it will be to my advantage for future studies during my degree course.

You should not worry about any maths or statistics in modules - in sociology there are not many, and most of it you will have done at school, and if you have not then you should not worry because you usually get help from your module lecturer, who may give out handbooks that have a glossary of terms, for you to understand what is meant by a certain mathematical words.

I am still terrified of maths and so I am not one to give advice on the subject. So far I have managed to avoid it as much as possible by asking other people for help. However, I do intend to take up one of the maths help courses either in summer or when I return to university. Perhaps it helps to appreciate that this is like any other fear - gradual introduction to the subject should help to develop confidence. Maths is every where, so it's surprising what you know already.

Statistics is certainly not my strong point. I had real problems with research methods, however, I am doing a Psychology degree and research methods is vital. The only advice I can give is to persevere with it and hopefully it will all come together, make the most of your tutors who are there to help you and ask questions when you are not clear.

I used to be very bad at mathematics and statistics and always chose subjects with the least amount of maths. To me maths was a bunch of numbers with no task or meaning - which I could not understand. My view on maths created a self fulfilling prophecy where the more I told myself I was bad at maths, the more bad I became. So never think of maths as a bunch of numbers, but see it as a problem which you need to solve. Unfortunately there is a bit of maths in most, if not all, subjects. So try to understand it NOW.

As I have not really come across this kind of problem it is quite hard to answer it. If I did come across a problem I would most probably go to the Learning Centre and ask for help there, or I may even ask a friend, or look it up in a book

There is also computer help from packages like Statistics for the Terrified, SPSS, and ABC Mathematics.

I have not really used mathematics of statistics myself. however the module SSC1001 involves a short introduction to statistics and I found that a good, very basic introduction. I know I will be learning about them in the next academic year.

I think that the Maths that we cover as social science students is all related to facts and perhaps if viewed in this way is easier to deal with. It is obviously essential to gain an understanding of analysing mathematical figures but this can be done slowly and built up over the semesters.

Some students thought success in statistics depends on collecting all relevant data, studying hard and managing one's time.

Maths and statistics are one of the so-called hard subjects. I am lucky to be one of those who enjoy maths. However, as a new student, make sure that you do not take a negative attitude to these subjects and use the help that is there for those who need it.

I find statistics and graphs hard to interpret, but I can give an advice to any student facing the same problem. He or she should take an interest in the subject, be positive, and always seek help from the tutors and those students who are good at the subject.

This semester, I had to do statistics and I was really anxious. Now I realise that statistics is not as difficult as I thought. I succeed by telling my self that it can not be so difficult, and I have to try. So that I did. I tried hard. I understood them - and now I have not got a problem. In fact, I can also say that I like them. So, if you believe in yourself and are patient, and you can succeed and improve in everything you want or must do.

I have always had problems with basic mathematical skills and would probably really benefit from having some help with it. Because I detest the subject so much I probably will not even try. All aspects of mathematics caused me major, unresolved, anxiety, so I have no advice. However, this is not a positive attitude to put across to new students so I would suggest that they seek help and support from the university for specific mathematical problems.

Mathematics and statistics is also very worrying for me. In one of my modules the lecturer introduced a book called the Good Study Guide by Andrew Nortledge. There was a chapter on numeracy which included how to read and interpret data. I found this book to be very useful and it enabled be to understand statistics more.

The thought of statistics alone scares a lot of people. However, learning about it as a module bears this in mind as it coaches you into it in a gradual way. To deal with this, I would say that continual practice of formulas, will help you to understand them and even remember them.

Within Social Science you will always come up against statistics in one form or another so you just have to bite the bullet and find some way of learning how to read and understand statistics. As Corporal Jones used to say in Dad's Army "Don't Panic". Lecturers know that a student may have problems with this and will advise you how to deal with it. That is how I have managed so far. I have also used a book called The Good Study Guide.

I chose this course because I am interested in the subject. I do not like maths full stop. There are no particular points which have worried me, just everything. I usually learn what I have to for exams and then forget everything afterwards. I do not need to know Pythagoras' rule for everyday life.

You could be right, but here is a counter-argument

The theorem of Pythagoras proves the
3,4,5 rule
This rule was very useful in building pyramids,
but could also be used when laying paving stones
(to check that the corners are square)

Knowing how it was proved from axioms
helps us understand theory and reason -
both of which are occasionally useful in everyday life

Many of the statistical tasks are not as hard as you may first think, so looking at them a bit longer may help. If not, there are always other people around in the same boat as you. If you are having a problem, do not keep quiet about it because, more often than not, the other 15 people in your class are having the same problem.

On the subject of mathematics and the application of statistical applications (for example spss), I would always suggest that the student actively looks for help. Not only from other students who feel proficient in statistical applications and mathematics, but from the various classes that are available within the college. If you cannot find adequate support, make your feelings known to your student representative. After all he or she is there to communicate your needs to board meetings of the University. Representatives are under used for the most part, so take advantage of them. If you are have grievances with lectures, you can express them to the lecturer and the student representative.

When some students see numbers they automatically panic. I am one of those. Mathematics and statistics always cause me problems. However, I have only come across one module that includes them. SSC2001 is a compulsory module so there was no way of getting out of it. But, surprisingly, a lot of it is done on the computers and the machine does all the hard bits for you. You simply enter the data and it produces the statistics.

At moment I am doing SSC2001 and it mainly involves statistics work. To tell the truth, I am absolutely confused. The main reason that it causes confusion is that the application I am required to use for the assessment is quite unfamiliar since I have never used it before. It takes a while to adjust to the system. The only tip that actually works with statistics is being able to interpret the graphs and understand the mathematics itself. In reality, doing this tends to be rather long and boring. This effort is needed with statistic, since it is like understanding a whole new language.

Although, in these modules, mathematics and statistics do not apply, we have to take SSC2001, which contains elements of both. I hated both mathematics and statistics, and believed that once I passed maths at GCSE level I would never have to face it again. I thought wrong.

On SSC2001 we are learning how to use SPSS for windows and Statistics for the terrified. These are a great help to anyone who has a fear of figures. Since nearly completing the module, I have a clearer understanding of statistics, and mathematical meanings such as mean, median, mode and range.

I used Statistics for the Terrified last year and I thought it provided a very comprehensible outline of all mathematical terms used within statistics.

If anybody was struggling I would advise them to seek help. There are lots of people who would help a struggling student with maths etc. Not many of the modules I have taken have included a great deal of maths, but SPSS, the computer programme for statistics is very helpful, as is Statistics for the Terrified.

Statistics and mathematics to me mean boredom and frustration. I really dislike them, and would prefer that any course containing either should not be compulsory.

I do not have any major problems with mathematics or statistics, though I am not particularly good at either of them. My main problem is when something appears to me to be illogical, as I expect mathematics and statistics to be very logical. I had great difficulties learning standard deviation and bell curves. Eventually, with lots of practise, I began to understand - But if I was asked to do it now, I would need some more practise.

I have only had experience with statistical information, since I have been at Middlesex. I found it very difficult to make sense of the information. To help with this, I got a book out of the library on basic statistics. This did help me to understand the terms that were being used. The book also gave examples of statistical graphs and other relevant information. It is also helpful when something is not clear to ask other students as they may be able to help.

The fact that this semester was the first time I have been involved in statistics caused my anxiety. I tried to resolve any problem that I was facing by reading many books dealing with statistics and by systematic practice. I think that ABC Mathematics will be very useful for the new students and for me as well.

ABC Mathematics appears to provide all the information you will need on maths as a sociologist. The only improvement I would suggest would be to put a more extensive contents, eg have it as the first page with all the key words listed alphabetically so that a student can simply click on the subject they need help with.

Thank you for the suggestion
I have now put an alphabetical index in the right margin

I think ABC Mathematics is very useful to give the student confidence in Maths as everything is broken down and clearly explained.

I can see ABC Mathematics being of use to some students. I can also see some students being scared of this webpage, instead of seeing it in the helpful way they should. It does look a bit daunting, and I am someone who has no problems with maths at all.

There are a large number of terms, which would probably require reading up on elseweher, but here the terms have definitions and examples. Sometimes it suggests when or in what context they should be used. This is done with averages, for example. I think it would be worth recomending a few books.

ABC Mathematics may be helpful to new students who would like to study maths or statistics. Most students are scared of figures. Fortunately, for me I had always good at figures. I love mathematics and statistics. This page is more on basic mathematics and statistics. I think it is good for any student who doesn't even have no knowledge of mathematics. If this page is to be improved, it will have to contain more advance maths which could scare students and confuse them . So in my opinion there should be no more improvement on this page.

Not needing any maths skills for a course is one of the pluses for taking it: But the ABC Mathematics is a great way to help you.

I am glad there was no mathematics in this subject. I do not like maths. ABC Mathematics seems very interesting, especially if you want to learn certain aspects of maths. Myself, I feel I only have to know the basics of maths.

I do not like maths or statistics myself, as I do not always understand it straight away. I tried to look at the web page, ABC Mathematics, but it would not allow me.

ABC Mathematics, on Andrew Roberts's web site, may come in useful as it contains some relevant aids. But some students may not even know it is there as Andrew Roberts' Study Guide is mainly used by students taking courses that are not mathematical. Also, those students who take mathematical courses may find the advice is already given. It may be given through its own module web pages found on the net e.g. socnet. Or through information/ handouts which may specify an aided workshop or programme.

I was interested in the ABC Statistics as I am doing a lot of statistical data at the moment, and sometimes find it difficult. This is due to my fear of numbers, although I am getting better as I have had to learn to read many tables and how to write explanations for graphs from the Social Trends books. To improve the web page, some graphs could be added with some easy to follow explanations on how to read them.

Thank you for the suggestion.
There is a page (very undeveloped)
about the way we represent things in graphical form.
I will look for some graphs to include.
Andrew Roberts

Several students mentioned the importance
of learning to interpret graphs

I am unable to offer advice as I will not be doing mathematics and statistics until next semester. However, ABC Statistics has quelled some of the fears I have to such an extent that I printed it off and will definitely be using it for future reference.

It is worrying when you see maths are involved in your studies, but do not worry. We use maths in every day life by just purchasing something at the local shop to adding up our student loan. There is a lot of help within the university to combat your fear. So do not panic. When a module requires maths or statistics you will be guided through it. If you stick to the study guidelines set out by the lecturers you will find it a lot easier.

During my time at Middlesex, I have rarely encountered mathematics or statistics. What I have come across has been fairly simple, just GCSE level. However, if you do experience any problems there is a computer package available called SPSS which is of use, or ask your lecturer for advice. ABC Mathematics is very detailed and no doubt beneficial when necessary.

The contributors to this page include:

Shama Abraham, Hibo Ahmed, Marcella Amado-Taylor, Scott Stephen Brown, Samantha Chase, Vanessa Christian, Baliktsioglou Christos, Melissa Claydon, Tom Bayman, Joanna Davidson, Camelia Ellis, Rachel Evans, Redempta Friday, Alexandra Glyde, Deborah Goulden, Bahareh Haghighat-Khah, Tariq Hameed, Georgina Haynes, Lee Humphries, Michelle Jones, Tim Knight, Danny Liecier, Lucy Martin, Suzanne MacDonald, Anna McGilvray, Allison McLaren, Neil McGrath, Margaret Ndagire, Minatsi Paraskevi, Garreth Phelan, Joelle Ripper, Charlotte Rose, Leanora Smith, Juliet Swinerd, Maria Ward, Louise Warriar

Study Link
Andrew Roberts' web Study Guide
Top of Page Take a Break - Read a Poem
Click coloured words to go where you want

Andrew Roberts likes to hear from users:
To contact him, please use the Communication Form

See also tips from students on:

Career Skills





Exam stress



Picture it


Stress tips