Student Success

Conquer Math Anxiety: Your Path to Success in Math (and Beyond)

Somlynn Rorie
Somlynn Rorie

Whether you’ve struggled with math since grade school or it’s a recent challenge in college, the feeling of math anxiety is all too real. If equations suddenly feel terrifying again, or the pressure of college math makes you break out in a sweat, you’re in good company. Math anxiety is a common experience, but here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to control you. With the right strategies and support, you can manage this feeling and achieve success in math. Let’s dive into the tips from the “Math Anxiety? Problem Solved!” poster and find a plan that works for you.

Section 1: Understanding Math Anxiety

Math anxiety is that feeling of fear, tension, or even dread that arises when faced with math tasks. For students, this can manifest in ways like feeling lost in a college lecture, struggling with timed tests, or avoiding classes that involve math. It’s important to understand that math anxiety isn’t about a lack of intelligence. Often, it stems from past negative experiences, the pressure for perfection, or simply feeling like math is a foreign language that we were never taught to speak fluently.

Math Anxiety Triggers

Surprise! Math anxiety doesn’t magically disappear when you get your high school diploma. College brings new challenges: large lecture halls, professors you might not know well, and timed tests that feel like a race against the clock. Even if you were a math whiz in high school, these pressures can trigger anxiety and make even familiar concepts seem impossible. The good news is, the strategies in this post are designed to help everyone—whether you’ve had math anxiety for years or it’s a new feeling in your college experience.

Section 2: Your Action Plan for Overcoming Math Anxiety and Achieving Success in Math


Seek Support.

Don’t go it alone! Reach out to your instructor, a study group, or consider finding a tutor specializing in the course work. Mini-step: Schedule an appointment to talk to your instructor during their office hours.

Practice Makes Progress.

Like building any muscle, consistent math practice strengthens your skills and reduces fear. Focus on short, frequent sessions and spaced repetition (revisiting concepts over time) for maximum benefit. Mini-step: Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on practice problems three times this week.

Sleep: Your Math Superpower.

When you’re well-rested, you remember concepts better, manage stress, and focus with greater ease. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep for your brain’s A-game. Mini-step: Set a consistent bedtime for yourself, even on weekends.

Think Positive.

Negative self-talk like “I’m terrible at math” can trigger your anxiety. Replace those thoughts with “I’m learning” or “I can improve with practice.” Mini-step: Write down three positive affirmations about your math ability and stick them where you’ll see them.

Mistakes Fuel Learning.

Embrace mistakes as valuable information, not a sign of failure. Ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” to shift your mindset and build resilience. Mini-step: Next time you make a mistake, jot down what went wrong and how you might avoid it in the future.

Take Breaks & Reward Yourself.

Short breaks prevent burnout. Celebrate your wins, big and small! A quick walk or your favorite snack can motivate you to keep going. Mini-step: Plan a small reward for completing this week’s math practice sessions.

Section 3: The Power of Support

Asking for help is a brave step, not a sign of weakness. Here are some resources:

Campus Resources: Many colleges and universities offer math tutoring centers or drop-in math labs, even for alumni and community members.

Online Support: Look for forums, websites, and apps specifically tailored for higher education students.

Beyond Numbers: If generalized anxiety is an issue, consider counseling or therapy to manage those feelings, which will indirectly improve your math anxiety as well.

Embrace Tools to Enhance Math Learning: Encourage your math or STEM instructor or department leads about adding online math-enhancement resources to elevate their course delivery. Möbius is a great example of a platform that offers immersive, and self-guided math learning experiences—from lesson delivery, homework, drills, and assessments—to meet students where they are in their learning journey.

Overcoming math anxiety takes time and consistent effort, but it’s absolutely possible. Be kind to yourself throughout this process!