Sign up ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

While studying math, I usually get stuck on some topics, how long should I insist trying to understand it alone? What are the strategies for when this happens?

share|cite|improve this question
When a student asks me how to do a problem, I have often told the student exactly how to do it. I have also asked the student to not take notes. You might use discussions with others, or MSE, in this way. If after a gap of a day or so, you can reconstruct the idea, then you probably have internalized it to an adequate extent. – André Nicolas Sep 3 '12 at 16:22

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

This is an answer that is based on my opinion and not necessarily fact.

It really does depend on what the topic/problem is. In general I would say that it is best to keep trying, but if you are able to identify a part of the topic/problem that is causing you problems, I would say that you just go ask someone. And when you ask someone, you can always try to ask for hints instead of complete answers.

As an example. If I am reading a paper, and there is a part of the paper that assumes that you know something about for example measure theory, and I don't know much about that, I would definitely just go ask someone for help. Maybe just ask someone for a crash course in say measure theory.

However, if you are working on solving an equation where it is just the arithmetic that is causing you problems, then I probably would just keep trying.

What are the strategies to "keep trying"? You might simply take a break from the problem for a while and come back later. If the problem is simple arithmetic, then you could also try to step back and try to for example write down all the rules/methods of arithmetic that you can think off. Then go over each rule/method and see if applying that in some way might help.

share|cite|improve this answer

I personally prefer to just ask the question on here when i am stuck. The community is really helpful and help me practically blaze through my course. Im already an entire term ahead of my class and at this rate will probably finish college level maths by the end of my year. My textbook is filled with like 40 questions of the same kind. You ask how the first one is done and then do the rest yourself.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.