Boil Down Math Concepts into Something Managable

This is Day 25 of 31 Days of Math Learning Success. Follow all the days here and check out others that are writing for 31 days here.

Every math concept has a similar version. Find the one that works for you!Bill Gates is a very rich man today… and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions.
~Dave Barry

Everything that can be done, has a different version.

Depending on your style and way of thinking, one of those will be significantly simpler than some of the others.

Changing letters to numbers

If you can’t remember what to do with x^5 \cdot x^3, think about it as 2^5 \cdot 2^3.

2^5 \cdot 2^3
32 \cdot 8

You have only a couple of choices for x^5 \cdot x^3. You have x^{15} and x^8. You know those two rules. But you get them mixed up sometimes.

So what’s 2^8 and what’s 2^{15}?


Since 2^5 \cdot 2^3 = 256, and 2^8=256 also, you can see that you’re supposed to add those exponents.

Which means the rule to follow in this case is “add the exponents.”

Compare and Contrast

Always be on the lookout for similarities. Polynomials, linear expressions,place value and fractions all behave the same way if you look at them like this:

3x^2 + 5x +7

3y + 5z + 7

3(100) + 5(10) + 7 (aka 357)


So focus on remembering how to deal with one, and use him as the hub to remembering the others.

Finding Favorites

Math is like everything else in the world – there are bazillions of pieces to it.

So you don’t have to like or dislike MATH, but you can pick and choose the pieces you like and dislike.

Find your favorites. And figure out how everything else is like those.

You’ll be a much happier student. And a far stronger one too!


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