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Learning Portal -Math: Math Anxiety

Math Anxiety

Math anxiety is a negative feeling or fear associated with math, and can develop in students who have had negative experiences with learning math in the past. Math anxiety may cause students to avoid math, believe that they can not learn math, or freeze during assessments. There are real physical symptoms associated with math anxiety, such as increased heart rate, nausea, sweating, and shortness of breath. With support and a positive learning environment, it is possible for students to overcome math anxiety.

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Top Tips 

✓ Be aware that math anxiety is very common. You are not alone.

✓ Adopt a positive attitude about math. Try to let go of your old feelings towards math. Approach math as though you are turning over a new leaf.

✓ Do lots and lots of practice problems. Know that nobody is born good at math. Math is a skill that is developed through practice.

✓ Don’t get frustrated when you make mistakes. Learning happens when you make mistakes. Take the opportunity to discover what you did wrong and what to do differently.

✓ Seek help from a tutor or math coach when needed. Check out what services are available for you at your college when you get stuck and need help.

✓ Ask lots of questions and take detailed notes in class. Take the opportunity to get as much information as possible.

✓ Commit to understanding the math instead of just memorizing rules. When you just memorize, you can easily forget, or be stumped by something you didn’t memorize. Understanding the math allows you to work out the problems for yourself

✓ Use breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques. Just like other types of anxiety, math anxiety can be managed through relaxation and stress management techniques.

About Math Anxiety

If math anxiety happens to you, you’re not alone. Watch this video (TED Talk, 2017) to learn about math anxiety.

For more information about what math anxiety is, check out this video:

Regulating your emotions with mindful exercises can help reduce math anxiety. Watch this video (TED Talks, 2017) for strategies to overcome your math anxiety.


Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is from the Learning Portal created by College Libraries Ontario. Content has been adapted for the GPRC Learning Commons in June 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.

All icons on these pages are from The Noun Project. See individual icons for creator attribution. 

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