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Do You Have Math Anxiety?
A Self Test
Rate your answers from 1 to 5; add them up and check
your score below.
(1) = Disagree, (5) = Agree.
1. I cringe when I have to go to math class. 1 2 3 4 5
2. I am uneasy about going to the board in a math class. 1 2 3 4 5
3. I am afraid to ask questions in math class. 1 2 3 4 5
4. I am always worried about being called on in math class. 1 2 3 4 5
5. I understand math now, but I worry that it's going to get really difficult soon. 1 2 3 4 5
6. I tend to zone out in math class. 1 2 3 4 5
7. I fear math tests more than any other kind. 1 2 3 4 5
8. I don't know how to study for math tests. 1 2 3 4 5
9. It's clear to me in math class, but when I go home it's like I was never there. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up with the rest of the class. 1 2 3 4 5
Check Your Score:
40-50 Sure thing, you have math anxiety. Check my 10 hints on how to reduce math anxiety.
30-39 No doubt! You're still fearful about math.
20-29 On the fence!.
10-19 Wow! Loose as a goose!
Math anxiety is an emotional reaction to mathematics based on a past unpleasant experience
which harms future learning. A good experience learning mathematics can overcome these
past feelings and success and future achievement in math can be attained.
Copyright ? 1997-2006
by Ellen Freedman, All Rights Reserved.
Developing Math Confidence
Math Anxiety: You are not alone People develop anxiety around math and math-related sci-
ences for a number of reasons.
Anxiety about performing well in math or math-based science
courses is a common experience for many college students. 1. Receiving messages that you are not good at math, or
Research has indicated that approximately 30% of college stu- that math is a hard and intimidating subject that can only
dents struggle with math anxiety, and that this issue has con- be mastered by certain students.
sistently ranked among the top 20 concerns for college 2. Societal views about math that suggest that it is harder
students. than other subjects and that competence in math should
be valued more than competence in other disciplines.
Math Anxiety: What does it look like? 3. Internal and external pressures to excel in math-based
Often people experience math anxiety while participating in Myths about Math
math activities such as exams. Some people find themselves
"blanking out" on math tests, even though they understand There are several myths about math that are often associated
the material, can do the homework, and have prepared well for with the development of math anxiety. Research has shown
the exam. It can be very frustrating to feel prepared only to re- that none are true, but many people believe them and may
ceive a low score on an exam. People with math anxiety typi- struggle with math anxiety.
cally do well in their other courses. However, math and
math-based science courses seem to be more difficult. Men are better at math than women
This is a stereotype that is often reinforced by society,
Avoidance including by teachers, parents, and guidance counselors.
People who struggle with math anxiety often find themselves
avoiding math-related activities.The following behaviors often There is a "best" or "correct" way to complete
increase math anxiety because the person does not feel pre- math problems
pared to complete the tasks: There are many ways to get to a correct answer in a math
? skipping class problem. Think about the many different ways people
figure out a tip for a restaurant bill, or how much they
? not reading one's math textbook will save on a sale item.
? postponing enrollment in math classes until the last
possible semester You have to have a "mathematical mind" to under-
? choosing a major based on avoiding math People are not born with different types of brains. Peo-
? studying math only right before an assignment is due or ple, do however, have different ways of learning. Myths
just prior to an exam such as this one discourage people from finding the
learning tools that work best for them, and cause people
Both math avoidance and poor performance on math tests to give up on learning math.
can create more anxiety about math. A cycle of anxiety and
avoidance can occur, which only increases the problem.
"I don't have problems in other classes, why don't I do well in How can I develop math confidence?
math?" Remember that some amount of anxiety is helpful to keep us
motivated and energized about something. However, if your psychological barriers to doing well in math and math-based
anxiety is so great that it is interfering with y9our ability to do courses. By attending all of the sessions and following the sug-
well in class, there are some steps you can take: gestions of the group leaders, you could expect to gain the fol-
1. Do math every day
Just like with a foreign language, if you don't use math ? Replace negative self-talk with more positive, confident
frequently, you'll have a harder time becoming fluent. self-talk
Do some math every day (Yes, including weekends), ? Better time management skills
even if it's only 15-30 minutes. Try to avoid stacking all ? Improved study habits
of your math activities on one or two days.
? Stress management and relaxation techniques
2. Scheduling ? Creative suggestions for overcoming blocks
Build positive time management skills by making and
sticking to a reasonable schedule. Your schedule should ? Learn about resources on campus for improving your
include time for studying, as well as social and personal math skills
activities.There are many ways to make a schedule; find ? Support from group leaders and others experiencing sim-
what works best for you. ilar struggles
3. Prepare adequately If you are interested in finding out more about the Math Con-
Make sure you're going to every class and regularly read- fidence group, please stop by the Counseling Center or call
ing your math textbook. Use you TAs and academic re- our office.
sources on campus. For larger projects, start early rather
than waiting until the last minute.
4. Identify and eliminate negative self-talk Brochure Author: Christina Carroll, Ph.D.
Become aware of your internal dialogue. Start replacing Series Editor: Jaquelyn Liss Resnick, Ph.D.
negative self-talk with more affirming and rational self- Published by: University of Florida Counseling Center 301 Peabody
talk. This may feel funny at first, but it will start feeling Hall, Gainesville FL 32611 (352) 392-1575 ? 2003
natural the more you practice.
5. Practice good self-care
Get enough sleep. Eat well-balanced, regular meals. Par-
ticipate in a regular exercise program. Learn effective
ways to relax and manage stress and anxiety. Poor self-
care leads to poor performance in all areas, including
6. Seek help
Find a study buddy or study group. If you feel you need
additional assistance, seek out a tutor or counselor. The
Counseling Center offers a group to help students gain
math confidence. Don't let fear of asking for help keep
you from reaching your goals.
The Math Confidence Group
The Counseling Center offers a group specifically designed
for people who struggle with math confidence.This group has
helped numerous students over 20 years to become more con-
fident in their math abilities. The group is not a tutoring pro-
gram or a math class. We help students overcome their
What's causing my anxiety quiz?The cause of test anxiety is often a combination of the following factors: Poor study habits: Students may not have studied thoroughly enough and are worried that they won’t know the material. Poor past test performance: The student has found past tests or exams difficult and is worried about repeating the same experience.
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