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Math? Where's my calculator?

Like many other adults out there, I haven't really used my math skills in many years. Whenever I had to solve a problem, I would just reach for my handy calculator. Now, after raising my three sons who are all now in college, I have made the decision to enroll in college full time for Graphic Design.

After enrolling and meeting with a student advisor, I was handed my student package and given a date for my placement test (College Board Accuplacer) along with a practice test to prepare myself for the exam. I walked out after enrolling and felt like I could take on anything. I felt on top of the world and ready for this new phase in my life.

I sat down with my newly sharpened pencil with eraser, my eye glasses and my enthusiasm...until I got past the English section into the math section of the practice exam! I suddenly realized that I couldn't even figure problems that I probably learned as far back as third grade. Panic struck, I felt nauseous. I began to get a headache and wanted to scream. I have to pass a math course to get my degree! It all started to look like French (I never took French. I took Spanish.) Words were flashing in my head that I haven't thought about in over 25 years: nominators, denominators, variables, exponents, integers and rational numbers, monomials, polynomials, systems of equations..........ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!


Frustrating homework

Frustrating homework

Okay, so after freaking out about how ignorant I felt at that very moment, I started looking around online for help. I was amazed how many websites and videos on YouTube that were available to help me recover my memory loss regarding solving math problems.

I had the basics down pat but needed help with remembering operations with integers and rational numbers, operations with algebraic expressions, adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials, obtaining solutions of equations, inequalities, the solution of quadratic equations by factoring, solving verbal problems presented in an algebraic context including geometric reasoning and graphing and the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions.


Math can be fun!

I started as far back as simple elementary math, and I am not embarrassed to admit it. It was like rewinding my brain to enable me to go forward. I found online websites for each step along the way. I was never so excited about math before. It became a challenge. I started to think of it as putting together a puzzle. You are never to old to learn, or to exercise your brain to remember what you have already learned but have not used in a very long time.

Need help with Geometry? Check out Mr. Kennedy...

Your online math teacher

  • Locus - YouTube
    Mr. Kennedy teaches an awesome lesson on the laws of locus and compound loci. This lesson is aligned with the NYS Regents Geometry Curriculum. Feel free to p...

Soon I might even be smarter than a 5th grader!

How we ever lived without the world wide web I will never know. I guess we would have to do it the old fashioned way and go to a library or book store and actually read and learn from books! To me though there is nothing like a book and as long as they make them, I will enjoy them. There are many great books available to help you with your math. I especially like "Math For Dummies". It was as though my name was on the cover, "Math for Nancy".

I believe we are never too old to learn. It keeps us young to challenge ourselves intellectually. Just have the "I can do it" attitude and find good sources for help.

Other good Math help websites

  • IXL Math
    Math practice tool for educators and families that adapts to a student's individual level of proficiency and includes achievement awards and progress reports. Various membership options are available and non-members are always welcome.
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Help with Math on


Johng376 on October 10, 2014:

I think you have noted some very interesting points , appreciate it for the post. efbgdfbbkkbk

Hassan Shahbaz from Islamabad, Pakistan on May 25, 2013:

can u suggest me any book or link from we can learn most of the techniques used in math?

Nancy Ann (author) from Long Island, New York on July 21, 2012:

Hi Kay, thanks for the comment. I totally can relate to what you are going through right now. I don't want to sound "corny" but the first thing I had to do was try and talk myself into believing I could do it. After convincing myself and trying to remain positive, I practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. I really used a lot of the online help I mentioned in the hub. Unfortunately, you have to live, sleep, and breathe math until you pass....but you can do it! Before you know it, you will be like me and fortunately have your math behind you. Every day I am at the college I see older student,s like ourselves, in a panic over passing their math course. I guess the good news is you are not alone. With the help of the math lab and the use of the online help, I know you can do it! Stay positive! Study the formulas and really get to know how they work. Then, breath and take on the problems one at a time! Good luck and let me know how you do. Sincerely, Nancy Ann

Another great link:

KayLBrown from Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 21, 2012:

I'm a 48 year old part time community college student who waited until my 3rd year to begrudgingly take a math class. I started out with remedial math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, ratios, percentages, finding areas, circumference, volume, etc) and managed to scrape by with a B-. In the Fall semester this year, I'll be in the next level class, but still remedial math, and will brush up on what I forgot over the Summer time, and start with pre-algebra, which I'm absolutely dreading. I have most of my required core classes finished, except for a a science class and the mandatory College Algebra class needed to graduate. Math is the only thing that's going to hold me back because I have to take a certain number of remedial math classes and pass them until I can qualify to get into the Algebra class. That will mean, extra hours in the math tutorial lab, lots of crying, cursing, pencil slamming, book slamming, wanting to quit school before I even graduate. Oh, yea...can't wait.

Anna on May 26, 2012:

What would u do for this:

A point moves around the outside of an equilateral triangle. It is always 1.5cm from the nearest point on the perimeter of the triangle. Construct the locus of the point. on April 14, 2011:

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