FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What is math anxiety?
A: Math anxiety is a failure of nerve in the face of having to do a computation or an analysis of a problem involving numbers, geometries, or mathematical concepts.

Q: Is math anxiety inherited?
A: No. Math anxiety is a response, over time, to stress in the math classroom where tests are frequently given under time pressure, in the home where there is competition with siblings, or at the work place.

Q: Are females more prone to math anxiety than males?
A: Boys have math anxiety, too, but it disables women more. Girls often feel more stress when doing something that is considered, in our culture (but not in others), a "male domain." Also, they do not get to practice using math as much as boys by watching and participating in sports. But history shows that many women have succeeded in mathematics and mathematics-based fields of study. In other cultures, girls are as likely to succeed in math as boys.

Q: Why are word problems so difficult?
A: Often because they present one with a situation one is not familiar with. The wrong answer to one question is the right answer to another. We all learn differently, and we each have our own approach to a problem. When those who create math problems assume that everyone will attack them from the same angle, they open up the possibility of tension for those who think differently. Chapter 5 in Overcoming Math Anxiety has more information and some helpful exercises.

Q: Is math anxiety curable?
A: With encouragement, a nurturing environment, and permission to proceed at one's own pace, math anxious people can eliminate math anxiety from their lives.

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