Why Math is So Hard

why is math so hard

why is math so hard

Are you struggling in math class for the O levels or the A levels? Mathematics is often perceived as difficult, especially as a student. This is because math introduces a series of new concepts and perplexing questions, most of which are not quite customarily encountered in normal life. 

For some this difficulty can indeed be attributed to genetic factors. (though it can sound like an excuse.)

Here are a few explanations that delve into both the nature of math and the genetic aspect, which can help you to understand how to conquer the difficulties of math and why it is so.

Complexity of Mathematics

1. Abstract Concepts: 

Mathematics involves abstract concepts that require higher-order thinking. Topics such as calculus, algebra, and trigonometry demand an ability to understand and manipulate abstract symbols and ideas. 

The concepts are difficult in the beginning but practise will make things easier. Make use of the acronyms or techniques taught by teachers such as “Toa Cah Soh” for Trigonometry to familiarise yourself with the topic at hand.


2. Cumulative Knowledge: 

Math is a cumulative subject, meaning that new concepts build upon previously learned material. For example, secondary school O level or A math topics in algebra and differentiation are concepts that recur in JC math A levels. 

If foundational concepts are not well understood, it becomes increasingly difficult to grasp more advanced topics.


3.Problem-Solving Skills: 

Math requires strong problem-solving skills and logical reasoning. These skills are not only challenging to develop but also need continuous practice and application.

As part of the problem solving experience, unlike many other subjects, mathematics requires precise and accurate answers. This demand for exactness can be daunting for students who are more comfortable with subjects that allow for interpretative answers.

Genetic Factors

Research indicates that cognitive abilities, such as working memory, spatial reasoning, and numerical processing, are influenced by genetic factors. These abilities play a crucial role in understanding and solving mathematical problems.

Though for some, this is a controversial way to approach math difficulties, math skills have a heritable component. For instance, twin studies suggest that genetic factors account for a significant portion of the variance in mathematical abilities among individuals. In fact, some scientists in Germany argue that about one-fifth of math ability can be traced back to grey matter volume in the brain, influence by a gene, called ROBO1

Hence, this leads to the next point where genetics influence the development of brain structures associated with numerical and spatial processing. Variations in these brain areas can affect an individual’s ability to comprehend and work with mathematical concepts.


Other Factors

For a minority, conditions such as dyscalculia, a specific learning disability in math, have been linked to genetic factors. Individuals with dyscalculia struggle with basic arithmetic and number sense, making math particularly challenging for them.

Understanding that part of the difficulty in math may be technical or genetics can help you to create better studying methods. For example, knowing that math difficulties can have a genetic basis may reduce the stigma associated with struggling in math, encouraging a more supportive and understanding educational environment.

How to Learn Maths? 

Now that we have identified the weakness, how do we improve when math is hard? 

Early Intervention: 

Identifying students who may be genetically predisposed to struggle with math can lead to early interventions, providing them with the support they need to build foundational skills.

Practise and Tuition 

It’s important to remember that with the right support, strategies, and resources, all students can improve their mathematical abilities and overcome challenges. This is best done through tuition either through 1 to 1 sessions or tuition groups. 

You can opt to consistently practice the 10 Year Series, but often, guidance by a tuition teacher will help you to approach questions with the right approach. The additional practice is also significant to break down abstract concepts and build up foundation (problems that were identified above!).  

Start Your Mathematics Learning Adventure With Musclemath

At MuscleMath, we guide student to score well through O-level math tuition, A-level math tuition and H2 Math tuition. Our team consists of ex-MOE HOD’s, NIE teachers and full-time tutors. 

As a leading and an MOE certified math tuition centre in Singapore, students will be provided with a wide range of options such as holiday tuition lessons, crash courses, free trials for all levels. 

We provide fully customised lessons in conjunction with specialised notes and materials that are constantly updated. If you’re looking for math tuition or need help to figure out how to study maths, our team will be there for you to support your learning journey, start now and achieve better results!