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How do I enhance my Maths skills as a high school student?

muhammadwasif profile image Muhammad Wasif ・1 min read

Hey
I have a question. The way they teach Maths at school here is like we have a couple of problems on text book. Teacher first teaches the concept behind the problems and then teaches us how to solve every problem. He solves each and every problem on whiteboard and we note and of course then test.

I cannot solve most of the questions if they are out of my text book. I would not be able to think critically and solve a problem based on what I have learned so far in mathematics.

I wanna be a computer scientist and I realize how important Maths is in CS.
Is it normal for a high school student? Or do I need to enhance my Mathematics skills?
Because I see it as cramming to just be able to solve questions that are on your notebook only.

I need your opinion.
(I am in final year of high school and hopefully will be joining University for my CS degree after 6 or 7 months)

Discussion (4)

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samgrah profile image
Sam Graham • Edited

If you want to be a computer scientist in academia, then yes, you'll need 'higher-level' mathematics skills. Definitely more than the average software engineer will utilize.

Mindset & Approach

This may not sound like a very useful response, but you need to learn to teach yourself. It will prevent you from acting like a victim of poor instruction. Which is the attitude you basically led with in your second sentence.

In this regard, the one characteristic which has most aided me is self-criticism.
I had to learn how to judge whether I understood a topic and hunt for holes in my understanding.
Focus on thoroughness and being honest with yourself. This mindset will harden you and change the way you approach math.

My undergraduate program (electrical engineering) required TONS of math. If I had taken one additional math course, I'd have been eligible for a mathematics minor.
Additionally, my major 'focus' was electromagnetics...which is very equation/solution heavy.
In short, I've lived what I'm preaching. Past Calc I, no one was holding my hand. Professors assigned chapters + problems and gave a 1hr lecture (often of dubious quality) which spanned several topics. The rest was up to me.

Practical

One advantage you have over the average student is your coding ability. Leverage it.
I recommend that, after solving by hand, you code every single math problem you attempt. Turn it into a function. Plot it. Get creative. You can bet your ass, that's what you'll be doing all day as a comp sci academic.
Use whatever programming language you wish, but I recommend a combo of Python and Juypter-notebooks like the data scientists use.

One of my most favorite courses was an advanced radar course. The professor gave us raw data files output from a radar array and we used our math + programming chops to create a 3D video of upper atmospheric plasma events (causes airplane turbulence). It wasn't comp sci, but there are definitely parallels in the work flow.

Last of all. Seek out mentors and enjoy the ride ;)

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muhammadwasif profile image
Muhammad Wasif Author

Thanks! That was very useful πŸ’«πŸ’«

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egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

Practice! Check out Khan Academy to learn concepts. Run through practice problems until it becomes second nature. Wolfram Alpha is a great resource for finding solutions (it's only helpful if you know what you're calculating, though!).

Make sure not to focus on just drills and solving equations. Word problems are going to help you much more with application of the concepts, even if they tend to be a bit more difficult IMO.

If you just want to focus on programming/web development, the most math you'll probably need is a decent grasp of algebra. If you're set on going further into CS, you'll definitely want a strong grasp of advanced algebra and trigonometry going into university (they may offer courses to help you get caught up if needed).

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muhammadwasif profile image
Muhammad Wasif Author

I was thinking about Khan Academy too!
Thanks