A young woman with light skin and brown hair pulled back in a bun leans against a blackboard (forehead is touching it) that has equations written on it.

Do you feel nervous about Math? Do you dislike Math? Do you have fear of doing Math? If so, you are not alone. You may have Math anxiety. Math anxiety, or Math phobia, is not unusual.

What is Math Anxiety?

Symptoms of Math anxiety include:

  • Negative self-talk.
  • Lack of motivation to work on Math.
  • Not studying regularly.
  • Putting off Math homework until the last minute.
  • Panic when doing Math homework or tests.
  • Difficulty remembering Math facts.
  • Relying on memorization rather than understanding.

Math anxiety is a condition that you have the power to change, if you so desire. Math anxiety is a learned behavior; you can change it!

Reducing Math Anxiety

You will need to work on your Math course each day, if only for a half-hour. You must avoid doing all your Math class homework and studying on one or two days per week. Schedule quality study time throughout the week and stick to your schedule. 

1. Study Smart

Read the information on study skills, time management, note-taking, and reading textbooks. The more you try different approaches, the more you will discover what works for you. 

2. Attend Math Class 

You must attend class to keep up with the fast pace of a college-level Math course. You will also get information regarding tests and instructor expectations. You will see examples that are not in the textbook. You are responsible for all information and concepts presented in class, whether you are present or not. 

3. Get Organized

You need to keep good class notes. You need to keep a good Math notebook with lists of vocabulary, properties, formulas, theorems and procedures. Must anxiety is caused by disorganization. 

4. Continually Test Yourself

Be aware of what you know and of what you don't know. Keep practicing the concepts and problems presented in the classroom and in the textbook. 

5. Replace Negative Self-Talk with Positive

Be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Develop positive affirmations such as "I will succeed in this course!" or "I love Math!" to counteract any negative feelings you may have about your abilities or about Math itself.

6. Use All Your Resources

Videos, textbooks, friends, study groups, your instructor, the internet....all are available to help you succeed. It's up to you to take advanage of them.

There are a variety of other proven techniques and activites that will help to to conquer Math anxiety. There are a variety of resources that will address these techniques and activities in more detail than is possible here. 

Mathematics Department

Talk to your instructor about your feelings toward Mathematics. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step in conquering them. Your instructor and Math tutors can help direct you to good resources and practices that can help you reduce or eliminate the emotional blocks to learning Math.

Math Websites for College Students

Math Books
  • Winning at Math: Your Guide To Learning Mathematics Through Successful Study Skills, 5th edition. by Paul D. Nolting, Ph.D. Academic Success Press, Inc., 2008.
  • Managing the Mean Math Blues by Cheryl Ooten. Prentice Hall, 2003.
  • Conquering Math Anxiety: A Self-Help Workbook with CD,3rd Edition by Cynthia Arem. Brooks/Cole, 2009.
  • M.A.STERING MathEM.A.TICS: How to Be A Great Math Student, 2nd ed. by Richard Manning Smith. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1994.
  • Mind Over Math by Stanley Kogelman and Joseph Warren. McGraw-Hill,1978.
  • Conquering Math Phobia by Calvin C. Clawson. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Overcoming Math Anxiety by Sheila Tobias. W. W. Norton, 1995.
  • Overcoming Math Anxiety by Randy Davidson and Ellen Levitov. Addison Wesle, 2000.
  • Math for the Anxious: building basic skillsby Rosanne Proga, McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Boston, 2005.
  • The Book for Math Empowerment by Sandra Manigault. Godosan Publications, 1997.