View Full Version : tips for tackling the harder math/science classes?

09-26-2012, 06:22 PM
My 11th grader is taking some hard classes this year. He has:

Algebra 2
German 2
2 harder semester English classes
2 semester history classes that he loves
plus a couple of easier electives (P.E. and Auto Maintenance)

He just studied a long time for his first Chemistry test (this extended studying is new to him -- he didn't like to study for tests at all last year and I finally talked him into it, so I was really proud of him for doing this today...) and he got a very low C. He was discouraged. I had a talk with him about sticking with it and what to do to keep up his GPA, things like that, but he's concerned about this year. He knows that 11th grade will be the hardest year for him, probably.

Those of you who actually took harder math and science in high school (because I went to school in the loosey-goosey early '80s and only took two years of easier math and science -- I never got past Geometry and Biology), do you have any tips on studying for those two subjects? I know that may be a weird question. I feel like I can help him with the other subjects and give good advice, but I'm at a loss with math and science.

He does algebra at home (Teaching Textbooks) and Apologia Chemistry that meets at a learning center once a week.

09-26-2012, 06:47 PM
Well, first of all, the beginning of Apologia Chemistry is all math for the most, and the hardest part of the book. My dd18 had a tough time getting through those first few modules. After that it was much more enjoyable.

So that may help give you a different perspective. I'm not sure why he puts all the math up front, because it was discouraging for my dd18 too, but she did the best she could with those first few and then the rest was much more enjoyable for her. She would probably tell you that chemistry is her favorite science.

As far as the TT Alegebra 2.... just keep plugging away at it. If he doesn't understand, the great things is he can watch the solutions as many times as he needs. That was a huge plus for us, especially on the word problems.

09-26-2012, 07:09 PM
One thing we used to do for rote memorization was to make "cram sheets". We would take a sheet of notebook paper, fold it in 4ths crosswise, making 4 parallel sections. Then turn it sideways, using the folds as dividers between columns, and using a VERY sharp pencil to write very small, write down everything we needed to learn. With both sides of the paper there were 8 sections to write in. You can fit an amazing amount of info onto a cram sheet! It could then be folded in half one more time to fit into a back pocket. These went with us everywhere, and while standing in line, or riding the bus, or anywhere there was a few free minutes, it was ready and available to study from. The simple act of organizing and writing all the info is an additional reinforcement.

Laura F
09-26-2012, 09:23 PM
You didn't mention how he studied for his first chem test. Does he rewrite his notes? Does he make flashcards? Or is he simply rereading the info? Does the book have suggestions or study guides/review sections?

I probably won't be helpful for math, but I don't remember doing a lot of studying because there was a constant stream of homework and review/practice during daily classes.

Kelly K
09-26-2012, 09:24 PM
Check out quizlet online. You can make your own flashcards.

Sunshine C
09-26-2012, 09:35 PM
I used to make my own flashcards for Chemistry - just the act of making them myself was a big help, but I also carried them everywhere, and used spare minutes to quiz myself...they were very helpful in learning formulas, definitions, specific things that I wanted to remember, etc.

The one thing that I would say for math and chemistry is just sit down and do problems - ones that you have access to the answers, so you can check your work. The best way to study for any math related work is going through the methods by actually using them to do problems - just reading it over and try to memorize them don't work very well.

09-27-2012, 04:21 PM
Thanks for your responses. I let ds read them and they were helpful. Partly they were helpful just because they didn't come from his mother. :eyes:

Quizlet looks fun. Thanks!

Jennifer in VA
09-27-2012, 08:44 PM
One thing I remember doing in college, that might be helpful, was to make study outlines with key terms or phrases. It worked similar to Wendy W's cram sheets, but maybe a step later. I could work through stuff to see what I remembered and if needed either go back to the book or notes.

While reading, for almost any subject, I'd also make vocab, people, dates, concept, etc. flash cards. You could put colored dots or symbols in a corner if certain cards all went together. It helped narrow down answers for multiple choice questions (the actual flash card) and symbol or dot for essay type questions.