I am a college student who has always struggled with math. I excel at pretty much everything else. I have a 4.0, but this is my first math course in college. I went in thinking my problems from grade school to high school were just due to a lack of trying, and that I could definitely work hard and do well in college. The first week was a review of basic math principles. Basic concepts, operations on real numbers, exponents, roots, order of operations, properties of real numbers. I did well, and I thought, "Hey! I can do math! I will be able to do this!"

The second week (this week) is linear equations, inequalities, and applications: Linear equations in one variable, formulas, applications of linear equations, linear inequalities in one variable, set operations and compound inequalities, absolute value equations and inequalities.

I went in with confidence. I maintained my confidence through the first couple of sections. I was struggling a little, but I know that math is not the easiest of subjects. I figured if I just kept trying, I would get it. Mostly, I did. Then I hit the word problems, percentages, and absolute values. It was like running at high speed into a brick wall.

I have spent hours and hours trying to understand this, and for the quiz, I STILL had to compare to a former problem and solve them side-by-side. Thankfully this class is online, so I can do that, but the final really worries me. Even with doing that, I just barely got an 80% on the quiz. If you had asked me to do it just off of memorization, I would have gotten all but 2 questions wrong. Most of the questions on the quiz are IDENTICAL to the ones on the practice problems other than the numbers used, and I still struggled.

One problem I just did incorrectly. I have yet to figure out how to GET the correct answer.

One problem I could kick myself for because I read it backward.

One problem I had the bloody right answer, but I put it in wrong. I put in - 28/5 instead of (-infinity, -18/5). I even had to graph it on a number line (which I did correctly), which should have been a dead giveaway that I had to have two points, not just one.

I was so in a frenzy afterward that I was literally in tears. I am really terrified about the rest of this class, and especially about the final. There is no time limit for the homework and quiz (other than a due date), but the final is 2 hours long. It takes me between 5-10 minutes a question, and I am only in week 2. Who knows how long it will take me for more complicated problems!

My husband looked up dyslexia as applied only to numbers because I am constantly transposing numbers and mathematical signs. He found dyscalculia. I looked at the potential symptoms, and no matter what list I look at, it is like reading a book of my life.

- I excel in verbal skills, biology, memorization (of anything but math!), etc. Most subjects are so easy for me that they actually bore me.

- I have absolutely no head for directions. I always joke that I could get lost in a paper bag with a neon exit sign pointing the way out. I go to my mother-in-law's house almost every single weekend, yet I still do not feel comfortable without using my GPS. She only lives 15-20 minutes away!

- I took ballet for a year before having to drop out due to lack of finances and time. I can manage each individual move just fine, but as soon as they are strung together, I have an intense struggle. I have to memorize the actual routine by just doing it over and over and over. If anything changes, I get completely lost. Everyone else seemed to be able to hear, "Do this, this, this, and then this" and do it after a few times through. It would take me weeks to learn, and by the time I learned it, we would be moving onto the next routine.

- I have ABSOLUTELY no concept of time. (OH! That reminds me, my laundry has been sitting in the drying for at least 4 hours...someone eles probably wants to use the dryer.)

- I misplace things frequently, and I forget tasks. My husband jokes that I have an alarm to remember to breath because I have to set so many alarms to remember things. Study, get the laundry (I just checked, and I set my alarm for the AM instead of the PM, which explains why it failed to remind me to get the laundry), etc.

- I am afraid that I may be on thin ice at work. I am a receptionist/admin assistant, and I keep making little mistakes that makes my boss upset. We do a bulk mailing at least once a week, and if I mess something up with the labels, I usually fail to see it, even after checking it a few times.

- In my online algebra class, we can repeat the homework and practice problems as many times as we like. Each time it generates a very similar problem. It seems that I can do it one time, then I will get it wrong the next.

- I cannot remember the concepts for this class to save my life! I can do the problems as long as I can look back, but without that, I am lost.

- I get very anxious when I have to navigate or work with numbers. My husband was actually very impatient with me until literally just now because I would always manage to get out of having to drive anywhere new. I usually literally choose to not go somewhere rather than go somewhere that was unfamiliar to me.

I am really scared because my goal in life is to be a geneticist. I cannot even picture being anything else. I have been working extremely hard toward this goal. I have maintained a high GPA, I am taking advanced sciences, and I have sacrificed quite a bit to be able to go to school. The problem is that I need to have good quantitative skills to even get into grad school. For the grad school I am considering, I need a 1300 combined in the general GRE. That is in the 80th percentile. While I know I will do well in the qualitative section, the quantitative section is what has me worried. It is especially worrying because they really look for applicants with strong quantitative skills.

What do I do? Where do I go from here? I know I need to get tested, but who does testing and where? I am in the Chicago, IL area. How long does testing take? Is there any chance I can be tested soon? I am worried about the class I am in right now. Should I give up on my dream of becoming a geneticist? The very thought has me in tears, but if there is no way that I can accomplish it, I would rather know now.

hello, argentox! Sorry for late welcome, and its good to have you on! I understand that you are scared but we are all in this together on here! I was formally tested and diagnosed in college, am now in my 30's. I went to Disabled Student Services Office, which most colleges and universities have - or something very similar - and said - here's my background, here's what I'm experiencing and I wanna get tested. I was continually failing the remedial math class I was placed into based on ACT scores for that - the class that required for me to get INTO the basic college math class for credit. I had experience in Ex. Ed before as a student w/speech and language problems and was working w/students in Summer Rec, program at time who were Deaf and students w/disabilities, including severe LD, autism, etc so I knew a little about it. So I went to this office and got tested through <outside agency in my home city and was confirmed w/LD. I then went back to said Office w/documentation and met w/person in charge of DSS and we discussed what the results meant for my college career. Based on testing results, people w/LD get a variety of accommodations, depending on ability of Dis. Student Services, flexibility of various colleges w/in the university as well as the actual university, and so on. I had accommodations such as: untimed math tests, use of special calculator, isolated testing, waived basic math class for requirement for university <but not Stats., which was required for my degree and my majors>, priority registration, use of additional/alternate materials for class study such as tape recorders<other media would be considered now> and so on. The testing was paid for through DVR and took a whole day but I really recommend it if possible because it gives greater chance that with accommodations, you will be able to have the same chances in your college program as the students w/o LD, Math LD is such a un-diagnosed, unknown LD, even among professionals like teachers, psychologists, etc, that unless you have actual written paperwork that SAY you have LD, the odds are authorities just won't give you a hand. The same goes for at work - the paperwork may be beneficial there, too - not saying it will be a total savior, but it gives you better ODDS.
Check out LDA Ill. - Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois - <www.ldail.org> as well as National Center on Learning Disabilities which may also have state chapters.

I have been having issues at work, too - a common theme on here - due to the LD and also because I am new hoh <don't be sorry> and also have auditory processing issues. The latter is called CAPD and varies among who you talk to whether an actual LD or something else unto itself, but is hearing problem in brain, not like the peripheral hearing loss I happen to have w/my ears, in the last couple of years.
So many of us are familiar with the sayings - if you'd try; why don't you pay attention; try harder; doesn't listen; needs to show more interest etc.
I was born at 6 and 1/2 months and was in Pull-out Ex Ed. in the elementary years for delayed speech and language problems. I have difficulties with: telling time, Left and Right, money, maps, oral instructions, spatial orientation and of course pure math concepts <don't know measurements, how to use ruler> , learned to tell time, count money and drive late. In high school I was considered to have "math anxiety" and went to sessions w/the high school psych. So I understand where you are coming from. See if you can get in touch w/anyone in those links I suggested - there may also be a support group on your campus and/or in your area in general for folks w/LD - even if most of the people involved have dyslexia instead of dyscalculia, I think you would find many who would understand and who could be local contacts for you.

Thank you! I emailed my school to see if they have a disabled students services department. I am only on campus from around 6:30 to 10:00pm, so I figured it would be best to email first and see what their hours are! Then if I need to take a day off of work to go in, I can. I will obviously need to take a day off of work to be tested, unless there are Saturday tests.

How long do test results usually take? I know it can take a while to generate a full report, but is there an average time?

I am managing fairly well in this week of algebra so far. It is all graphing and slopes, which (as long as I can keep the signs straight!) is something I am reasonably good at. There are formulas, but I mostly just ignore them and remember a simple example. The formulas just confuse me and make me panic! It is easier if I just know that this number goes in this slot and this one goes in that slot. LOL.

I would love getting an A in algebra (and then a B in precalc and calc would be just fine by me!), but I am not sure if that is going to happen. As long as I can keep at least a B in my math classes, I should be able to squeeze into grad school as long as I really pump up the rest of my application. Of course, the GRE is going to be a sticking point.
8 + 1x = 0.04x IS the same as 8 + 1x = 0.4x, I swear it is! (And I had to check this 5 times to make sure I had written that [in]correctly!)

well, I don't know from algebra - Good Luck! You are bold to take Pre-Calc., etc. - I took up to Geometry in high school as requirement, and was as dismal at it as any math class. In college I took that class for students with LD I told you about and the dreaded Stats for my major requirement.

I believe it was couple weeks time for test results for me, but may also depend on agency that does testing and what their caseload is like. DVR has also changed policies in the last several years so you may find new infor. there if you inquire.

Uuugh, this week WAS easier until we got into word problems and really complicated problems again. Is it REALLY necessary to have a bazillion fractions and sign changes in a single problem?! *Bashes head against a wall.* I cannot get through a single one of these problems without mixing something up. Half of them I mix up the SAME DARN THING each time! You would think after that many times, I would say, "Hey, you mix up the same thing. So make sure THAT ONE THING is not mixed up."

Ugh, it is so frustrating, belittling, and infuriating! I feel completely stupid because I cannot get what I assume should be relatively simple math. I actually am understanding (most) of the concepts and even remembering the formulas better than I normally do. I just cannot get past this stupid transposing of numbers and signs! It is almost as if I see ANY other number or sign and POP it goes into the space I was trying to put the correct number in. I practically need a sheet of scratch paper per step of each equation. I need a whole ream of paper just to get through 50 questions. Gah!

I am trying to at least get through this one section of practice problems because I REALLY want some time to spend with my husband this weekend instead of doing math aaaaall weekend long. He is gone for 4 weeks, and this is the only weekend he has back with me. Thank goodness there is no class on Monday, so at least my biology homework is not due until Wednesday! Math is due every Sunday, though. The drawback of an online class. The positive, though, is that I can practice as much as I need to make my brain somehow warp around the concepts. Then I just have to worry about doing the actual adding and subtracting right and not transposing anything.

Rottiewoman: I have to take pre-calc and calc or change career options. Since I absolutely want to be a geneticist, I just have to figure out some way to get through it. Pre-cal, calc, chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. I am either stupid or crazy, I am not sure which!
Edited by argentnox on September 04 2009 04:16 AM
8 + 1x = 0.04x IS the same as 8 + 1x = 0.4x, I swear it is! (And I had to check this 5 times to make sure I had written that [in]correctly!)

argentnox,
I was wondering how long it takes you to solve math problems. And how are you at chemistry? I ask because your story sounds just like mine...until you got to the part where you talked about being bad with time and directions. I am still really terrible at math, though. I am so slow at solving math problems because I keep making careless mistakes...and because I was so bad at math that I kind of accepted that I ma potentially horrible at it. But after reading the story of other members, maybe I don't really have it?

This is huge and i am sorry for quasi-hijacking your thread. I just felt compelled to write something since you're going into the hard sciences, which I have a passion for myself.

I'm half-tempted to scan in a sheet of my work just to show you what I've found it takes to do "the work" right, since you're putting yourself in a similar situation to myself, education-wise. Don't be afraid to use up pages and pages if that's what it takes to have enough detail, and keep everything spaced out and straight.

If you decide beforehand that the whole page is what it's going to take to capture the detail, I find it goes a lot easier. When I forget this, I tend to get tense and try to take shortcuts. This never, ever ends well. Just admit it's going to take a page, and be done with it. Carry a stapler, I do. There's something comforting about taking the stapler out and saying, "Yep, gonna be a whole bunch of pages."

My average is a whole sheet of paper, sometimes two, for a decent math problem. If they're very "simple," I can sometimes fit two on a page. All my professors are used to getting a stack of paper. Also, I find they grade me more favorably when I give them a huge stack with everything really spaced out and detailed. They see exactly how much I know and how silly the mistake was, and I usually get a 7/10 or 8/10 on most problems I get wrong. Your mileage may vary.

I used to have a ton, and I mean a ton, of problems with word questions. Unfortunately, my ability to solve word problems only came AFTER I figured out my own little tricks for algebra. For someone who has a passion for the hard sciences (as genetics obviously is), I would bet money that you can figure out word problems if you manage to get algebra out of the way. This is just my experience (obviously) but for hard-sciences, logic-oriented people, word problems are difficult because the algebra is unclear, not because they don't understand the problem. If you can see where you are, and where you're going, you are ahead of the game. Most people who "get" math cannot do this very well. They get the middle part, but not the beginning or the goal.

That brings me to algebra.

Not sure if this will help you, I have not found anyone wit the desire yet to "repeat the journey," I suppose, of doing math on one's own. So I don't know if it works for anyone else, feel free to ignore it and go your own way.

For all of algebra, I really only remember four things and three operations, and then everything else becomes a rational (to me) extension of these rules. I spent all my time studying THESE rules, instead of really what my classes required, and it all worked out.

This is just my nannering and internal mental process of how I address algebra. I am not trying to teach anyone anything here, just give a basis for external study using the same topics I studied instead of the topics taught, which don't work for me.

There are three operations in algebra:

Addition, multiplication, and exponentiation. Subtraction, division, and logarithms are not "real" operations; they are the first three, but backwards.

Each operation is defined in terms of the one that comes before it; addition is the lowest meaningful activity you can have, multiplication is defined as repeated addition, and exponentiation is repeated multiplication. So that's why there's an order of operations; if you want to get addition done, you have to make sure there's nothing "above it" in terms of complexity. Can't drive to work if you haven't bought a car, eh?

And all subtraction can be expressed as an addition, all division can be expressed as multiplication, and all exponents can be expressed as logarithms. So anything that applies to addition, applies to subtraction exactly as if it were addition, because it is. If you are putting socks on or taking socks off, you're still dealing with socks. If you're putting shoes on or taking shoes off, you're still dealing with shoes.

And there are four properties of algebra, which apply to each of the operations:

The associative, the communicative, the distributive, and the identity.

Association means the objects you're dealing with can occur in any order regardless of how they appear, and you will get the same result. You have two feet, and can put your socks on in any order. In the end, you're wearing socks. But if you jump to a new operation, now you're suddenly trying to put your shoes on before your socks, and shoes before socks gives you quite a different result.

In math, this means 1 + ( 2 + 3 ) = ( 1 + 2 ) + 3. No matter if you decide to add 2+3, and then 1, or 1 and 2, an then three - you get the same result. But switching operations, 1 + (2 * 3) does NOT equal (1 + 2) * 3. Shoes before socks.

Communication means the objects can appear in any order, and it makes no difference. You have a left foot, and a right foot. If your cross your feet and put your socks on, you're again wearing socks.

1 + 2 + 3 = 3 + 2 +1

Not really interesting for addition, but it IS interesting for division, since most of the #$T%@#$ stupid rules they give for dealing with division come from this one, stupid property. Everything I was never good at about division is because I didn't know this. After I really got some practice with it, and what it meant, there was a huge reduction in mistakes. Cross multiply? NO SUCH THING.

2 ÷ 4 * 3 = 2 * 3 ÷ 4

This goes back to the whole "Division is really multiplication" thing. And cross multiplication is stupid, because the fraction:

(2/4) can be written as 2 * (1/4). This is hugely important. If you look into it, I think it becomes obvious, logically, why this is so.

Distribution talks about doing one operation on top of another. If you go to put your shoes on, and you put a sock on your left foot, and then a shoe on the same foot, you better remember to put a sock on that other foot before you go anywhere with the shoe. Because even though you can put socks on either foot in any order, and the same with shoes, you better do the socks THEN shoes. Distribution talks about that. It is algebra's way of making sure our socks are on before the shoes.

From the first property, 2 * (1 + 3) is very different from ( 2 * 1 ) + 3. So how do I preserve the order?

Distribution says, and it's fairly easy to test with a calculator, that 2 * (1 + 3) = (2 * 1) + (2 * 3). It's called distribution because everything got a 2. But to me, 2's not a number, it's just an object like a sock or a shoe. If 1 and 3 are my feet, each need a sock, which is 2.

And identity. Identity just says that there's a number for each operation that, when you do the operation with the identify on some object, the object is unchanged.

1 + 0 = 1. So 0 is the identity for addition.

2 * 1 = 2. So 1 is the identity for multiplication.

This doesn't matter in algebra, not really. It matters an awful lot later, in higher math courses.

Anyway, I'm really sorry for dumping math in a math-free zone. This concludes tonight's broadcast.

Please advice on the package I should use to run a linear regression model (weighted least squared) with linear equality constraint. I initially tried "constrOptim" but it turned out that it only supported linear inequality constraint. Thank you very much in advance.

geeknick wrote:
Please advice on the package I should use to run a linear regression model (weighted least squared) with linear equality constraint. I initially tried "constrOptim" but it turned out that it only supported linear inequality constraint. Thank you very much in advance.