How to Refresh Math Skills for College

Refreshing math skills is vital for all beginning college students.
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Whether jetting off to college right after high school or enrolling years later, you can benefit from reviewing key math concepts. Besides math courses, you will use your quantitative skills in other general education courses, such as biology and chemistry. Therefore, a solid foundation in math is important to overall college success. Because of the accelerated pace of college courses, instructors spend very little time reviewing basic skills learned in high school or middle school. Refreshing math skills is a great proactive strategy to ace your math-based courses.

1 Divide and Conquer

Reviewing topics from years of math can be overwhelming. Preplanning can simplify the task and make it easier to persevere. To begin, survey math concepts and rate them based on familiarity. The ACT guidelines can be used as a reference as the test measures college readiness in math. Math topics critical for college success can be separated into three categories: Pre-algebra/elementary algebra, intermediate algebra/coordinate geometry and trigonometry. Concentrate on reviewing concepts that are the least familiar. Arrange a study schedule by setting aside a couple hours per day. Set a goal for concepts to master during your study time.

2 Dive into a Book

Use comprehensive books to assist you in reviving math skills. High school textbooks are a great resource, as they have both in-depth explanations and practice problems. ACT workbooks and study guides offer a brief review of concepts with a variety of practice problems. Helpful books include "Practical Algebra: A Self-Teaching Guide, Second Edition" by Peter H. Selby and Steve Slavin, "Barron's ACT Math and Science Workbook, 2nd Edition" by Roselyn Teukolsy and "Algebra for Dummies" by Mary Jane Sterling. You can locate other helpful study manuals in the local library or bookstore. With any type of print resource, set goals and deadlines for mastering each content area.

3 Learn Online

Online tutorials can be used exclusively or to supplement books. Sites such as Kahn Academy offer short explanatory videos and associated practice problems. You can complete lessons and interactive quizzes on sites similar to or Use Purplemath to explore a comprehensive list of beneficial online math resources.

4 Take a Course

Refresh your skills through a free massive open online course, or MOOC. MOOCs allow anyone to learn a particular subject from anywhere in the world. Udemy, Canvas Network, and Education Portal offer free algebra courses. For in-person assistance in reviewing math skills, take a math refresher course offered by the continuing education program at your local university.

Erin Wheeler is an emerging educational consultant who focuses her research and efforts to improve student success rates in higher education, particularly in science and technology. She has been writing for more than five years. She received her doctorate in Science & Math Education from Southern University and A&M College.