What to Know About High School Math

Entering high school is an exciting experience, but it can also be full of unknowns—especially in the math department. Balancing the difficulty of classes and the sometimes overwhelming aspects of high school life can quickly become a challenge. It also might be new for you to choose classes and to have to think about the future in a more tangible way.

With that said, preparing yourself for your high school math classes can be key to success. Things to know about high school math include finding ways to understand your teachers’ expectations, thinking of how math plays into your future goals, and remembering that past math skills still come into play.

High school math can be intimidating for many students. Luckily, there are ways to ease the discomfort. Here are several things to know:

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Consider how high school math influences your future goals

College and the working world are slowly creeping closer, and that can be intimidating. It’s helpful to think of your future goals now, as that can help you decide which math classes are necessary for you. For example, if you think engineering sounds interesting, you’re going to want to challenge yourself to excel in the most difficult math courses at your high school. AP classes and SAT subject tests are also something to think about. However, if a field like comparative literature is more your thing, you might have a different trajectory through high school math. Regardless, it’s always great to aim for excellence so you can allow for more opportunities after high school.

Understand that the concepts you learned in past math classes will matter in high school math

Many of the math skills that you learned before high school are going to come into play in your high school math classes. For instance:

  • Remember identifying shapes in elementary school? That is the basis of geometry.

  • How about slope in middle school? That is integral to algebra.

The tough part about this is that you have to remember everything, but the helpful part is that if you have gaps in your knowledge, you can take some time to review. Do times tables always trip you up? Glance through them now to feel confident in your new courses.

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Take advantage of group study in your high school math classes

Like your other math classes in elementary and middle school, high school math excellence relies on practice. Understandably, sometimes practicing on your own can get boring and repetitive. Finding a study group at the beginning of the year can thus be extremely helpful. You might encounter some tough homework questions throughout the year or need some extra review before tests and finals. Having the support of a study group can make high school math classes less intimidating.

Make sure you understand your high school math teacher’s expectations

In high school, teachers will demand more of you, and your responsibilities will increase. This can be overwhelming at first, but being clear on what your teacher is asking of you is the best first step. Make sure you know how your grade is calculated. Is it heavy on the homework side? Maybe your teacher only gives three tests a semester. By understanding how you’re being graded, you can give your time and effort to those areas to achieve your desired goal. This is also a great skill to practice before entering college.

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Inquire with older students about their high school math experiences

Reaching out to older students who have already taken your classes can be helpful and stress-relieving. It can be great to get their perspective on what the teacher was looking for or their pet peeves in particular classes. Knowing what you’re in for can give you an idea of what to look forward to and what to keep an eye out for during the year.

Ask questions in your high school math class

This might be the most important thing to remember. High school math can be accelerated and intense at times. Sometimes, the teacher might move through a concept too quickly for you to fully understand. If you can, ask questions in class. If the teacher has to get through a lesson plan, ask your friends or your teacher after class. Asking questions in the moment is usually the most helpful. This way, you won’t waste time doing problems incorrectly. Use your resources and advocate for your understanding of concepts in the class.


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