Secrets Why Students Excel in Math

                   By Vic Odarve

 Math intimidates and frightens the students but there are few who did excel or perform far better and more consistently than their peers. Simply, they have their secrets…put a regular effort in their studies, hang with classmates with similar goals, and build a reputation for excellence. By keeping regular study on the notes after the class develops good retention of the subject; associating with fellow good learners can improve time management and developing positive attitude in order to excel. No wonder, these students are on the top of their Math class.

Engineering Students 200 level

Engineering Students 200 level

The study showed that the first in a two- hour lecture is the most effective period for memory retention. Faced with this dilemma, a review after the class is needed to recover part of the time where memory retention was least. Reading the notes for a few minutes after classroom strengthen further your memory. Any lapses and misunderstood notes can be easily corrected. Develop this habit regularly makes math understanding perfect!

Another behavior among students who excel in mathematics is that they select their friends. By keeping in a company and hanging around with good classmates or friends who always study mathematics in their school also bring a tremendous change in their behavior, lifestyles, manners, and actions. Oftentimes students slowly and slowly emulate one’s friend’s way of living in one way or another. Look, associate, and surround  only  with friends that give with positive influence; hang only to those that are supporting and enhancing their life, and filter their background and stick to one with the same mission and ambitions in their life. Select friends that are good math performers; they belong to their tribes. Top math performers have good time management for a study and outside classroom activities. They often hang with them.

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Lastly, these students build a proper attitude to excel in mathematics. They do always the best that they can. In a classroom, they listen intently how teachers did the steps in solving math problems and think mathematically more than memorizing of facts. They often spot patterns in solving problems; systematically seek why and prove the steps. They always strive for the best grade. With competent teachers, coupled with a positive attitude, these students develop a kind of flexibility and creativity; hence, excel in mathematics.

With proper motivation and empowerment from a competent math teacher coupled with these behavioral tips and secrets from students who excel in math, more students will be no longer intimidated and frightened in mathematics.


Perception of Mathematics as a Difficult Course

                 By Vic Odarve

Students, as well as parents, used to perceive math as one of the courses that give them headaches and nervous throughout in their educational career. There is a perception that those who have exceptional math grades after secondary level may enroll math extensive courses like engineering and computer science, while those who have poor have then enroll in other courses. They never realize that mathematics can be learned like any other courses. We are all created mathematically capable.

Rocket Irie

Rocket Irie- Math learning at an early age

The perception that math is difficult intensifies as science advances. Math is the language of science; hence it follows in that direction. Parents usually complaint that they could not help their students’ assignments as the lessons are out of their own world of understanding. Because of this perception, students, too, escape courses that cover extensive mathematics; and instead choose those with few mathematical descriptions. This is how they perceive; math puts them in frightening mode.

On the same line of perception universities and colleges require enrollees to pass qualifying entrance examination before accepting a particular degree. Math is the backbone of such examination. The qualifying entrance exams will determine the student’s fitness/capability for the career to choose. Those with good math scores for math extensive careers while those on boundary line may choose other fields of discipline.

Final Exam- Mathematics

Final Exam- Mathematics

But no matter how difficult mathematics is, the skill to understand and master the course can be learned. Except for those few gifted individuals, skills to manipulate and analyze mathematical concepts can be developed through hard work and dedication. Einstein, for instance, was not impressive in math during college days such that his professors did not recommend him for a university position after graduation in 1900. It was his work, dedication dealing with mathematical investigation concerning the foundations of field physics that yielded the elegant equation E= MC2.

Einstein- creator of E= MC2

Einstein- creator of  E= MC2


Wrong perception about math generally generates fear and passivity to learn and as a result your life becomes a whole mess. Like Einstein, success does not just come by accident. You work yourself through it. Have the courage to break away from negative perception and set the pace and others will follow.

EMT 202 Engineering Math 2 Quiz 2

Our second quiz will be on Monday, June 22, 2015. Please review the following matrix methods in solving unknowns for sets of linear equations.

  1. Cramer’s rule. This method makes use of the determinants in finding the solutions. Using the minor’s method, determinants can be solved easier. Very important for the minor’s method is the use of the conventional signs. Any rows or columns can be utilized as long as conventional signs are observed. Then use the formulas for the unknowns.

2. Gaussian Elimination method. This is the most used among the upper triangular matrix system in solving sets of linear equation. Of course transform first three sets of equation into the augmented matrix form. Any legitimate row operations can be used to achieve the required upper triangular matrix. Then, finally, back substitution will solve the unknowns.

3. Gauss Jordan. This method is just a continuation from Gaussian elimination by making the diagonal line into 1’s and zeros upper and lower matrices. Row operations are used to attain the form. Since the diagonal elements are 1’s, unknowns can be solved readily.

4. Inverse Method. This is derived from the AX= b equation. Of course, A is a coefficient matrix, X represents the unknowns, and b, are the constants. Transforming such equation into X = A -1b, may solve the equation where A -1 is the inverse of A.


Try the sets of linear equations below. Solve the following sets of equations by

a) Cramer’s rule b) Gaussian elimination

c) Gauss Jordan method d) Inverse method

                       2x – y + 2z       = 7

                        x + 3y -3z        = 10   

                        3x – 2y + 3z    = 5

Answers:        x = 1                y= 11               z= 8

  1. Victor E. Odarve, BSME/MEP-ME, MAED, EDD

Mayana, Jagna, Bohol, Philippines, Southeast Asia

Math Examples that Keep Students Challenge

                                     By Vic Odarve

Solving math examples in different methods but yield the same answer is itself a challenge.  And it works; keeping students at bay!

This approach allows the students to learn the principles of each method of solving same examples and develop mastery. As they master the different methods, students can readily compare the results with ease and build confidence. As confidence builds up, they challenge math problems by doing themselves; hence math becomes easier and simpler.

Solving math problems by different methods can surprise many      students, even the stupid ones. Math teachers, an expert in this field and speak with a power of persuasion, keep students’ eyes, glue to the board; ears listen to every discussion, and silence throughout the classroom. For example, in Algebra, find the value of x in a quadratic equation by factoring, by completing the square, and by the use quadratic formula. These three methods of finding the solution work differently but yields the same answer. This way the students learn three math principles in just one example. Furthermore, they can spot the differences, and mimic the teacher’s steps in arriving the final answer. Students feel great, satisfied, and enjoyed by learning three different approaches. This develops mastery of the course. Of course, a surprise and challenge!

Working Examples

Working Examples

Solving single math problem and obtain the same result using different methods also allows students to check and compare the final answer; hence the process builds up their confidence. Students turn this great opportunity to learn more methods; thus, increasing their math knowledge. These environments keep them changing, growing, and learning more math; thus becoming them to be an expert. Since all the methods yield the same results, they are motivated and making great grades… one of the top class math performers. The approach does build their confidence. Henceforth, as confidence develops, students challenge themselves in solving math exercises and problems.

What were the results? Some students came to the office smiling and showed their solutions confidently; others wanted to discuss how they got their final answer. Sounds great and fulfilling! It all begins with single math example that keeps the student’s challenge.

Copy Blindly and Understand Later

                                   By  Vic  Odarve

Failed to understand and behind in a math discussion? Just copy blindly and understand your notes later.

Math lecturer

Math lecturer

This is an engineering student’s way of life – abounds of mathematical theorems, formulas, principles, transformations, and a lot more. What a life! So, anybody would like to become an Engineer? And adding to the pain, once students behind in a discussion, teachers just told them boldly,” Just copy blindly and understand it later”. Copying without understanding? That’s it. This is the picture painted inside the classroom. The lecturer did no longer explain the details of the steps on how the previous course of mathematical

Copy blindly and understand later

Copy blindly and understand later

principles and techniques are done. “These steps are supposed to be learned in your previous course, and the class is running out of time,” lecturer told the students. That’s why students who did poorly in the previous math are frustrated. Sounds hopeless? Not at all; just copy blindly and understand the notes later!

 Copying blindly simply means noting down whatever the steps the lecturer has

Engineering students after the class

Engineering students after the class

done in the classroom, even without complete understanding on what you have copied. This is the common scenarios in an engineering classroom. The lecturer is a lecturer and nothing more. He knows how to weigh things, whether to review or not, otherwise he will be behind or may not complete the topic before the semester ends. So as a result “just copy blindly “. It is the students’ initiative; teaching them that to become an engineer is not a bed of roses. Math professors like Einstein, works and solves worded problems lightning speed that only few can fully understand. Since math is like a ladder and if students had poor performance in their previous courses, this time it takes its toll. As a result, students just copy without understanding. But this is a significant step…first step to develop how the students can catch up the tremendous pressure to pass the course.

However, this scenario is not so horrible. This message” copy blindly and study later” encourages the students to study more. This means that students must revisit their notes and lessons after the class. The phrase “understand later” lingers in their memory urging them to review on what happen to their notes or else next meeting they do the same…. Copy blindly and completed the bachelor’s degree in six to eight years instead of five. Most often students will find that after a little review in a discussion that initially baffled them will all of a sudden make sense. Thus, like a gravitational pull exerted by dark energy in the expanding universe, “copying blindly and understand later” drags and challenges the students to study.

Subsequently, the students develop a habit of opening the notes and review everything there on what was discussed by the teacher every after the classroom session. Believe it or not, that slowly and surely, the students develop the habits of doing these practices every after the class session. The turn of events is now clear: students find themselves loving and embracing mathematics!

The phrase “copy blindly and understand later” becomes the things of the past.