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Developing maths study skills and strategies as a mathematics student

Find out how to develop your approach to studying for a mathematics degree.

Develop your maths study skills

If you are studying for a maths degree then the subject can often seem quite different at university. Before coming to university you will mainly have studied processes which you learnt by practising and you will have been provided with many examples to use. At university, concepts and proofs become more important and you might find it hard to work out how to be successful in your studies.

Why you need to develop your study skills and strategies

You have already been successful in studying maths in the past and it might be tempting to stick with the ways of studying you have always used. However, by now you may have realised there have been changes in the

  • type of maths you are learning
  • way new maths is presented to you
  • type of things the lecturer might ask you to do in problem sheets and tests

Your lecturers know that this might be a surprise to you and they are expecting you to develop the way you study in response:

Generally, students are surprised by both the teaching method at university and the nature of university mathematics1

When you should aim to develop your study skills and strategies

It takes time to change how you study. It is best to make a start during your first year as this will give you plenty of time to try things out and to find out what works for you. Remember, you:

  • don't need to change everything at once
  • can try something out for just one unit - perhaps the unit you are finding to be a challenge

How you should approach developing your study skills and strategies

To help get you started use the resources on the MASH for Mathematical Sciences page. You can use this to explore ideas and plan changes. You will also find links to further resources on the pages. You can also develop your approaches by:

  • working with others and reflecting as a group on the different ways people study, think and learn
  • attending MASH workshops and asking for input from older students
  • attending a MASH drop-in and asking a member of staff for input
  • talking to your personal tutor and your unit tutors about how to approach things


  1. Thomlinson, Challis, and Robinson. 2009. Student Experiences of the Transition to University. MSOR Connections 9 (2): 48–51

Start developing your maths study skills

Go to MASH for Mathematical Sciences


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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