Skip to content

Maths & numeracy: Help and resources

Use all the resources you have available

  • Get help as soon as you need it. Don't wait until an exam is near or an assignment is due to be handed in. New material builds on previous sections, so anything you don't understand now will make future material difficult to understand.
  • Ask questions as often as you need to. You get help and stay actively involved in the class.
  • Visit your lecturers in their 'office hours'. They like to see students who want to help themselves.
  • Ask friends, members of your study group, PASS group or anyone else who can help. The classmate who explains something to you learns just as much as you do, for he/she must think carefully about how to explain the particular concept or solution in a clear way - so don't be reluctant to ask a classmate.
  • All students need help at some point, so be sure to get the help you need.
  • Right after you get help with a problem, work another similar problem by yourself.

Ask questions

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Any question is better than no question at all (at least your lecturer will know you have a problem).  A good question will allow your helper to quickly identify exactly what you don't understand.
  • A comment such as: "I don't understand anything in this topic" is too vague and the best you can expect in reply to such a remark is a brief review of the topic, which will probably overlook the particular thing(s) which you don't understand. Be specific when addressing something you do not understand.
  • For example: "I don't understand why f(x + h) doesn't equal f (x) + f (h)." This is a very specific remark that will get a very specific response and hopefully clear up your difficulty.


Example ways to address issues and questions:

Bad comment: “I can’t do integration.”

Good comment: "I have difficulty integrating√ x "

This may actually mean "I'm not sure how to write √ x  in index form"


Good question: "How can you tell the difference between the equation of a circle and the equation of a line?"

Acceptable question: "How do you do question 17?"

Better question: "Can you show me how to start question 17?"

This means that you hope that given the start you think you’ll be able to complete it


Even better question: "This is how I tried to do question 17. What went wrong?"

The focus of attention is on your thought process.


You control the help you get

Helpers should be coaches, not crutches. They should encourage you, give you hints as you need them, and sometimes show you how to do problems. But they should not, nor be expected to, actually do the work you need to do. They are there to help you figure out how to learn maths for yourself.

  • When you go for help, have specific questions to ask. You should run the session as much as possible.
  • Do not allow yourself to become dependent on others, they cannot take the exams for you. You must take care to be the one in control of tutoring sessions.
  • You must recognise that sometimes you do need some coaching to help you through, and it is up to you to seek out that coaching.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of copying a fellow student’s work and handing it in as your own. You will be found out! Also you will not learn any maths to help you later in the exam!