Buy used textbooks. Sometimes we don’t understand a concept because the explanation is just plain bad or it’s not written in a way that we can understand. It’s good to have a text that gives alternate explanations and additional sample problems to work out. Many used book stores will have inexpensive texts. Just double check to make sure that the explanations and answers from the previous owner are correct!
Study actively. Don’t just work out a problem, draw pictures and diagrams of a process and make up stories to go along with them. If you are an auditory learner, you may want to make brief recordings of yourself defining some terms or processes.
Read actively. Use sticky notes or flags to mark important things in your chapter or things you need to ask about in class. If you have a sample problem that you’ve worked out and you’d like to have similar problems for additional practice, mark it with a flag and ask the teacher next time you are in class.
Use college prep study guides. If you can’t find an old textbook to use in addition to your class text, try using an SAT, ACT, or CLEP study guides. They often provide great explanations and sample problems. You can also find free online study guides for these tests.
Take breaks. If you come across a problem that you don’t understand, read it over a few times and give it a try—but then walk away from it and make a sandwich or do something else. Your brain will continue to work on the problem subconsciously.
Review old tests. Old tests are the best clues to future tests. They are good for establishing a strong foundation for the newer information, but they also provide insight as to how the teacher thinks.
Practice neatness. How unfortunate would it be to miss a test question out of sloppiness? It’s important to make sure you can line up problems neatly so you don’t confuse yourself, and also to make sure you can tell your sevens from your ones.
Find a study partner. A study partner can test you and help you understand things you can’t get on your own.
Understand the process. You sometimes hear that it doesn’t matter how you come up with the right answer, just as long as you get there. But, this is not always true. You should always strive to understand an equation or a process.