I am a Post-Graduate in English Literature and aspiring to bag a job in government sector, especially in a public sector bank. Past two years, I have been appearing for these recruitment exams, but there is something which is holding me back from qualifying these exams. That “something” is nothing but an underlying phobia, which I have been harbouring since the day I began preparing for these exams: The Math Phobia.
Well, this aversion towards Mathematics is something which I have developed recently, about two years ago. The scenario was completely opposite few years back. I was amongst the top scorers in Mathematics in my school. Right from my primary school days, where I was awarded a trophy for scoring highest marks in Maths, up to 10th standard, where I scored 142/150 in board exams, I was quite sharp in Mathematics. Then again during my 12th boards, I had taken science stream and scored 70% in Maths paper. It was not just about scoring but I actually loved solving Maths problems. I enjoyed every hour that I spent doing Maths. Back then, I was totally a Maths lover and had never imagined I would develop such a fear towards Maths in future.
During my graduation, I changed my stream from Science to Arts, where Maths was not in my electives for the course. So with this, I lost contact with the subject for the next few years until I completed my graduation and started appearing for these recruitment exams, which reunited me with Maths in the form of Quantitative Aptitude section.
This was the time when I began struggling with mathematical problems. I had forgotten the basics, slowed down in calculations and at times didn’t understand the logic behind the question. I started feeling low confident about this subject. In first few exams, I either left the Quantitative aptitude section completely blank or attempted only 4-5 problems at the most. Many a times I ran out of time. I knew it was not going to work like this and I had no option of leaving a section blank because of the sectional cut-offs. Even if there were no sectional cut-offs for some exams, I couldn’t afford leaving an entire Maths section blank as it would still affect my overall score to a great extent. So, there was no point in running away from this.
Now, after 8 failed attempts in previous exams, I have decided to face my problem and overcome my phobia before attempting the next papers. One fine day, it just struck me, why not tackle this problem same like a mathematical problem; in step by step manner!
I realized the first step that I need to take was to identify the actual problem. The actual problem was not that I didn’t understand Maths or lacked the ability to solve mathematical problems, but I had started believing that I lacked mathematical abilities. Earlier, while preparing for the exams, I used to directly jump on solving questions from exercises and mock tests and when I couldn’t do it, I used to feel de-motivated. This happened mainly because I had forgotten the basic concepts and fundamentals of Mathematics.
When I identified this actual problem, I started working on it from level 0: building up my fundamentals. I approached every chapter right from its basics and started solving examples related to each concept. This time, I decided not to solve by my own in the initial stages. Instead just look at the solution under the problem and solve in similar way.
I changed my pattern of study. I decided to focus on my practice rather than evaluating myself as right or wrong. Why should I fear going wrong during my practice session? Even if I do go wrong and make mistakes, I will learn the concept in a better way, and eventually, I will learn to solve correctly. Not to forget that mistakes are a part of learning. I need not be hard on myself. I need not assess myself during my practice sessions. I must solely focus on grasping and understanding the problem. The assessment part can be taken care of later.
Study time or practice sessions are meant for improving your techniques, learning the correct methods and achieving speed and accuracy in calculations, and so on…so as to reach perfection.
That day onwards, I decided to simply sit with my Quantitative Aptitude books and start solving every problem by looking at its solution. This way I began to train my mind to learn the concept, understand the logic behind every problem and learn different methods in which the problem can be approached. I went on solving this way. Slowly, I started solving exercises given under each topic, on my own. I learnt better and faster methods to solve a problem. This way of studying and practicing was easier and fun to learn as I had full freedom to understand, make mistakes, all at my own pace, without judging myself.
When I felt more confident with my practice, I began solving mock test. I realized that I had actually attempted around 60% problems correctly from quantitative section, within the stipulated time. From not being able to solve a single problem to being able to solve more than half of the questions from the section was a great progress. Though it was a mock test, it was a big achievement for me. It was the first step towards my success.
I went on practicing in the same way, with my skills and confident level soaring with each passing day. Now I have again started enjoying Maths. I have found the key to overcome my fear. That key is Practice, practice and practice! And it is applicable for all other subjects too.
My exams are just round the corner. I know, this time I will face them with a relaxed mind, a cheerful countenance and a confident attitude. This time I will crack all my exams with flying colours!