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I want to be good at math and physics

  1. Aug 3, 2009 #1

    The title above is fairly descriptive, although it's not the whole problem.

    I really like electronics and computers, and most technology related subjects. I think I would really enjoy working with electronics and being in that industry, but I have a major problem - I don't think I have the required aptitiude for it.

    The bottom line is that I suck at math and math related subjects (physics). I can't do mental sums in my head, and I have trouble working out my change when I buy something. All my life I have been made fun of for being mathematically challenged (not always in bad way) and I really think it is standing in the way of what I want to do.

    I have tested pretty high on an actual IQ test (131), so general ability and intelligence shouldn't be a problem. But for some reason it is. Is it just simply that I'm not a natural math-head and I should maybe turn my attention to something I am actually talented at and have the aptitude for? (Someone also said to me that even if I did manage to get a qual in Electronics, who would want an engineer/designer who may get sums wrong?) which I guess is a fair point. I don't want to be incompetent.

    Any thoughts or opinions? :O
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2009 #2
    I am no engineer, but I'm pretty sure that engineers working on major projects these days don't rely on their ability to do "mental math" these days :wink:

    I don't know just how badly you "suck at math and math related subjects", but I believe you'd be surprised at your success if you're willing to put in the hours. Furthermore, mathematics is only part of an engineer's training. Finally, where natural aptitude does count some, it definitely plays second fiddle to sheer determination, self-discipline and a brutal work ethic.

    I think the issue here is really one of how hard you're willing to work at achieving your goals.
  4. Aug 3, 2009 #3


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    I'm partly just echoing your previous reply, but be assured that your ability to do arithmetic has very little relation to anything. If someone wants an employee who can consistently do lots of arithmetic quickly and error free, they'll be hiring a computer, not a human.

    I screw up arithmetic again and again and again. On an exam in a college math class I wrote (as part of a larger calculation) "3 + 6 = 8". I also have a truly horrible memory; I can barely remember the multiplication table. But I am about to graduate with a BS in Math and a 4.0 average in math classes. This is like a poet worrying about his spelling ability. That just isn't what it's about.

    Now, maybe you really are bad at math... but it sounds more like you just haven't really encountered much math yet.
  5. Aug 4, 2009 #4
    You can find IQ tests that test for different kinds of intelligence - mathematical, linguistic, logical... You might find it amusing to dig out one of these and see if you "really are" unintelligent when it comes to Math! Note computing is very logical and linguistic, so don't despair if your Math IQ is very low! Just edge away from more mathematical aspect of computing and electronics...
  6. Sep 6, 2009 #5
    I guess your alternative is this web 24yahoo (dot) com
    They provide math video solutions to most math courses.
  7. Sep 6, 2009 #6
    Working with electronics is a fairly broad desire. There're some very different occupations that might fall into that category. For instance, an electrician works with electronics, and needs no math worth mentioning in his daily life. An electrical engineer, however, will certainly need to know how to use some mathematics (and some more advanced mathematics if you want to be a theorist, but then you probably wouldn't be "working with electronics" in the sense of the phrase that I have assumed you meant).

    I think the simple answer here is to just try it out; take calculus 1 and 2, an intro linear algebra course, and some intro engineering courses. If you genuinely put in an effort, and you find these courses too difficult, then you will almost certainly not succeed in more advanced courses.
  8. Sep 6, 2009 #7


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    Hey there. Math is like most things including sport. You need to practice it to become good at it. Sure there are people out there that "get it" quicker than others but mostly its not a spectator sport. People solve problems to understand things. It might seem tedious, mind-numbing boring or whatever but honestly thats pretty much all it takes.

    Don't be ashamed to ask questions when you don't know whats going on. The more you can absorb off mentors or bright people the better chance you will have at getting to their level and possibly beyond. Chances are other people don't know whats going on either.

    Granted there are areas of math where genius, IQ or whatever you want to call it come in handy and do play a role but like what most people have already said, its the hard work that counts in the end. If you have trouble don't feel bad. Lots of people need help at some point and those who don't are probably more luckier than most.

    All the best,

  9. Sep 6, 2009 #8
    If you to be good, study what you don't know and work hard. That's it.
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