Differences in Study Skills for Math, English & Science


Each academic subject in school has its own set of study skills that require development and mastery. In order to complete a course in math successfully, you may use different strategies as compared to those required in an English class. In some cases, subjects require the same skill to be used but applied in a different way. By being aware of what study skills are required in each subject, a student can focus his attention on that skill set.

Mathematical Skills

  • Math skills vary according to which area of math you are studying. General or basic math is, to a great extent, a matter of memorization. The answer to "what is 4 plus 4" should not require much thought or analysis. The memorized answer is 8. When solving an algebraic equation, you are required to memorize a rule and formula and logically apply the formula to a variety of problems. Abstract thinking is required as you think about "(2x + 3) = 48" and attempt to solve for x. Geometry also requires logic and spacial visualization as you calculate the measurements of a triangle. Visualizing the triangle as a room you are carpeting can help contextualize the learning.


  • In English, while there is some memorization of meanings of words, there is also the need to discern the meaning through the context of the sentence. Few words have just one meaning. Interpretation skills help you take the entire sentence, paragraph and story context into consideration when determining the "meaning" of a word. As in geometry, visualization skills help give meaning to the interpretation of language. Because language is dynamic, predictive skills allow English students to anticipate meaning by applying what they know about the real world and imposing that meaning on the text. There is in grammar a need to memorize rules that govern the language and its usage.


  • Students in science classes excel at establishing a hypothesis or guess at what causes certain things to happen. Then they establish tests to verify the hypothesis. They use observation of physical realities in a similar way as students of English observe the text and not rules that govern the laws of grammar. The science students ask why and then take a guess at the answer. They keep testing their hypothesis until it is proven. Note-taking, charting and diagramming can help them visualize gravity, G-forces and atomic structure.


  • Analyzing numbers and words requires a different skill. Creating a guess at what may happen next in a story is not exactly the same as what may happen next in an experiment. Visualizing an angle on a triangle is not exactly the same as imagining the stage while reading the stage directions in a play, but all of these skills are transferable from one academic subject to another.

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