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Start S.M.A.R.T for Math Success

No matter your major or career plans, mathematics is an integral part of your academic experience at UT and your life beyond the classroom. UT faculty and staff are here to support you in meeting your academic and career goals. Your future career as a musician, accountant, fashion designer, or engineer will include math. The experience gained from intense practice at analytical thinking in math courses will help you better analyze and solve problems in real life. Because of this, math is required in college because you need to learn how to think at more profound, effective levels. And, like almost anything else, that requires practice, beginning with your first mathematics courses. 

To help you excel in your lower-division math courses, we’re sharing our best tips and advice from students and faculty. Check them out below! 

UT students give their top tips for succeeding in lower-division math courses. Dr. Conrad Plaut, head of the Mathematics Department, shares why your first math courses matter to your academic, personal, and professional success.

Utilize these tips to prepare for and master your math courses, in addition to your other classes!

  • Review course syllabi and calendars before class. 
  • Become familiar with course requirements, topics, and due dates. 
  • Check Canvas for announcements and read your VolMail regularly. 

  • Manage and utilize your time efficiently to set yourself up to succeed – prepare to spend two hours out of class for each hour in class. 
  • Create a schedule that allows you to tackle the content in small chunks throughout the week. 
  • Designate a space that enables you to focus and minimize distractions. 



  • Participate in active learning and group work in your math courses by posing questions, finding similar examples, explaining the steps to others when you can, and keeping the group focused on the task at hand. 
  • Take notes during lectures, whether they are live or recorded. 
  • To assist with note-taking: Work through problems and write down questions you have. Join the Academic Success Center for a success workshop on note taking on September 8. 
  • For recorded lectures, replay segments when a concept is not making sense.  
  • Keep in mind the goal of note-taking is to understand the concept, not to write down each word the instructor is saying. 

  • Utilize UT’s free online and in-person academic resources to help you succeed in your math courses. The Vol Study Center offers tutoring and Supplemental Instruction – a form of facilitated group study. Students who use these resources have higher GPAs than students who don’t.  
  • The Math Place is your place to learn, get assistance with homework, and prepare for exams. 
  • Some courses offer student study hours. These sessions are in a study-hall format with a course instructor available to assist you. 
  • Take advantage of the time you have with your instructors and teaching assistants. Approach them with questions when you need additional support. 
  • Your instructor may also have office hours for students. 

  • Take responsibility for your learning and put yourself in the driver’s seat of your success.  
  • Turn mistakes into opportunities – regroup and connect with your Vol Success Team. 
  • Ask questions! It’s ok not to know the answer. It’s not ok to not ask questions. 

For more information on math success at UT, visit the Department of Mathematics.