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Numeracy skills: Practical tips and advice that you can count on

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Student looking at a laptop while studying in TL Robertson Library.

Let’s face it: maths is challenging. But, while there isn’t really a way to make the maths problems in your units any easier, what we can do is make our numeracy skills better.

The question is, how?

Master the basics

Conveniently, maths builds upon itself. If you’re struggling with a concept in class, it might mean that you’re missing a key building block from your prior learning. Don’t just memorise the formulas and rules, recognise the underlying principles surrounding them. By revisiting prior concepts step-by-step, we should be able to work our way up to tackling the more advanced problems with ease.

Use it or lose it

Your brain is brilliant, but not limitness. It starts to forget things that you don’t use regularly, so practise often and practise effectively. There are many, many freely available resources available to teach you, but it’s the conscious effort of applying these learnings that allows us to understand them. It’s also important that you recognise how long it might take to refine your numeracy skills. Allow yourself enough time in your study schedule to practise as much as you need to.

Use a variety of resources

On top of your unit materials, there are mountains of helpful videos, tutorials, and educational platforms online that can help you. A specific approach or explanation from an external source might be all you need for a concept to finally click into place. Whenever I need to revisit a specific bit of higher-level maths, my go-to is Khan Academy – it’s free, it’s got practice questions, plenty of videos that explain everything, and has helped me through the most confusing parts of my degree!

That’s it!

If you need a refresher or re-introduction to algebra, you can visit this UniSkills page from the Curtin Library which covers the key concepts for linear equations, quadratics, and exponents & logarithms step-by-step. There is also the introduction to statistics module if your course is more reliant on statistical literacy, normal distributions, and hypothesis testing. Good luck!

Written by Patrick Catambay, Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) student and Peer Academic Mentor.

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