Why is Maths So Difficult? 5 Ways to Improve Your Performance in Maths

Demystifying Mathematics: Best Ways to Improve your Math Performance

Mathematics has been dubbed a challenging subject throughout the history of modern schooling, resulting in many students developing a fear of numbers that persists throughout their academic lives. This fear feeds their conceptual struggle with the subject matter of mathematics, as portrayals in pop culture, age-old school lore and the everyday experiences of students, all point to one seemingly universal fact: maths is hard. You’re either good at it, or you’re not.

However, with the right approach and strategies, most students can overcome maths difficulties and improve their scores in the subject. Here, we will delve into the reasons why many young students find mathematics hard, and provide practical tips to help you enhance your maths skills to achieve better results.

1. A Lack of Foundation and Conceptual Understanding:

One common reason why a large number of students find maths difficult is their lack of a solid foundation of conceptual understanding. Maths concepts build upon one another; this is the reason why it seems like an impossibly difficult subject. If there are gaps in your understanding of maths  early on, it becomes increasingly challenging to grasp more complex topics. 

So for instance, if you failed to clearly understand and assimilate the maths concepts that you were taught in the fifth grade, you may go on to have problems with your maths all the way into high school—because your baseline concepts are weak.

 The key is to identify and address any foundational gaps promptly. Seek additional help from teachers, tutors, or online resources to revisit fundamental concepts. Focus on building a strong conceptual understanding by practising problems and applying concepts to real-life scenarios.

2. Fear and a Negative Mindset:

Maths anxiety, or a negative mindset towards maths, can significantly hinder your progress. Fear and anxiety create a mental block that prevents students from approaching maths problems with confidence and clarity. To combat it, you should try to cultivate a positive mindset by reframing your thoughts about and approach towards maths. Be prepared to have your reserves of perseverance tested in your effort to improve your performance. Always try to break down challenging problems into smaller, manageable steps, and make sure to celebrate small victories along the way, to keep your motivation up.

3. Lack of Practice and Application:

Mathematics is a subject that demands practice. Without regular practice and application of the mathematical concepts you learn, you will struggle to retain the information and apply it to problem-solving situations. Learning concepts without putting them into consistent practice tends to be wasted effort, as practice is essential for you to understand how to apply the concepts you learn to problems that need to be solved.

If you’re not in the habit of practising your mathematics at least a couple of times a week, make sure to allocate dedicated time for regular maths practice when you plan your study schedule. Try to solve a variety of problems, including textbook exercises, online quizzes, and real-world scenarios. Attempting to use maths in your daily life, such as calculating expenses or measuring ingredients while cooking, is also good practice.

4. Ineffective Learning Strategies:

Some of you may be finding maths difficult because you are using ineffective learning strategies in your approach to the subject. Each student has unique optimal learning preferences, and it's important to find the study strategies that work best for you. Experiment with different learning approaches, such as visual aids, hands-on activities, or mnemonic devices, to help you learn and remember concepts. Collaborate with teachers, peers, or tutors to discover alternative ways of understanding and solving maths problems, to optimise your study time.

5. Lack of Confidence and Motivation:

A lack of confidence in maths can be a significant barrier to improvement. You may be someone who believes that they are "just not good at maths". This way of thinking will have a direct negative impact on your motivation and willingness to put in the effort to improve.

Focus on building your maths-confidence through small successes. Set achievable goals and celebrate any progress you see, and keep reinforcing to yourself the belief that improvement is possible with persistence and dedication.


Overcoming difficulties with mathematics requires a combination of perseverance, effective strategies, and a positive mindset. By addressing foundational gaps, embracing a growth mindset, practising regularly, employing effective learning strategies, and nurturing confidence, you can break through the barriers that make maths challenging for you. Remember that maths proficiency is a journey that requires time and effort. With determination and the right approach, anyone can improve their maths scores and unlock their full potential; no matter how long you've been thinking that you're “just not good at maths”.


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