View Full Version : Help! Failing algebra miserably.

Rock My Sox
10-17-04, 11:44 PM
This is my first post here, so let me take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Andrea, and I'm 14 years old and in the 9th grade. I haven't ever been formally diagnosed with ADD, but I, like anyone who knows me, am certain that I have it.

I am not on any medications, nor do I have some sort of coach. Basicly, I'm just a kid who has a serious concentration problem and because of that, is suffering in Algebra.

Now, it's not that I don't, or can't, comprehend the work. But I have such a hard time staying focused on what my teacher is saying, even if I tell myself, "I need to concentrate on this", I will for like five seconds, then I'll either get distracted by something or someone (thanks to starting late, nearly all of my seats are in the back of the classroom), or just zoning out.

Secondly, I usually bomb my algebra tests because I'll start working out the problem, zone out for about five minutes, then freak out and realize I only have a certain amount of time to finish the test and quickly scribble down whatever random answer I can come up with.

I really have no clue what to do! I'm far from stupid, and I really want to go to Harvard, but if I keep failing algebra my grade point average won't be high enough to go to any decent college.

And, not to be putting down my parents or anything, I love them with all of my heart, but my mom sure has gotten me into a lot of crappy situations throughout my childhood, and I'm not really the happiest kid you'll ever meet. I don't really want to get into that, though. I'm depressed enough as it is.

But anyway... ! Help would be highly appreciated.

Trooper Keith
10-17-04, 11:53 PM
Yay for a new youngest regular poster (aside from Koda)! We are talking in the Chatroom.

10-17-04, 11:59 PM
Hi! Sounds to me like you need to get formally evaluated for ADD. If you have it, medication can help, and you can see about receiving accomodations in school.

Unfortunately, being 14, you're going to have to involve your parents in this. Since you mention some troubles with your mom, maybe your dad can help?

10-18-04, 04:48 AM
Well for only being 14 I am certainly impressed with the quality of the composition of your post.

You may be having problems with Algebra but you sure dint seem to have any problems with putting words together in a clear concise format.

Rock My Sox
10-18-04, 06:27 PM
Thank you. :o)

Let's just hope I can get my algebra grade up this nine half of the semester.

10-18-04, 06:58 PM
I am assuming you are an American and I have heard many people talk on here about some kind of law or act that you guys have down there that allows for individulized help for students.

If you can put words together as well as you have in your first post here, then it would be my belief that you would have no problem composing a letter to the school administration and asking for some extra help based on the law or whatever it is called down there

How about it all you Americans , what bill is it that I see you guys talk about here quite often and how would this little 14 year old Author go about finding the information she needs so she can ask her school for the extra help she needs

10-19-04, 02:09 PM
try this out... not sure if it works, helped me recently. i w ish someone would have taught me how to do math this way. anyway, if your teacher is real strict about "the proper way", you can at least check the solution with this method.

--Normal way--




(_* _) =4

each power gets a _
you can use it with pretty much anything questiosn with one variable.

10-19-04, 04:55 PM
Have you talked to your parents at all? What about your guidance councilor?

Also, teachers can be very good if you talk to them privatley and maybe schedule some help after school.

10-24-04, 02:03 AM
I have spent may "after school hour" with my math teachers! I never was able to understand algebra, or any math for that matter. The laws that may be of help are IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) given you get a proper diagnosis. If you don't qualify for services under IDEA (IEPs, etc) a 504 plan may be helpful. This plan allows for reasonable accomodations in the classroom such as extended testing time (very helpful!), etc. This can get kind of complicated, especially for a 14 yr old. Mention this to a guidance counselor in your school, I'm sure they will set you in the right direction! They will take care of all this for you! It would be best for you to take care of it while you're still in school! Otherwise you'll find yourself doing it all on your own later, like I did, found out the hard way! I got my diagnosis in college but luckily had the guidence of a professor, who was a great help.
Lots of Luck!

11-05-04, 02:32 AM
do you have an official diagnosis? are you taking any meds? if you are, when is the last time you've talked to a doctor about their effectiveness?

while you're trying to straighten out all that. maybe this will get you through class until you can pay attention.

the only way i finally got through algebra was by not trying to understand it.
it sounds counter-intuitive, but, i was spending too much time trying to make algebra make sense to me. and when i couldn't get it, i'd zone out because the teacher's droning made me sleepy. ;)

i found that if i stopped thinking about *why* it works, and just do the steps without thinking about it and somehow, it started to make a little bit of sense. not in the "and today i'm an aerospace engineer" kind of way, but, i did pass!

that's probably terrible advice by the way, but, it worked for me.....

the other thing i found was that being tutored by someone who thinks it's "easy" is very demoralizing. my math teacher was the worst because he couldn't understand why it was so hard for me. so, he never tried to explain it any other way than the way he did in class.

if you can, try to find a study partner who was doing poorly at the beginning of the year, but, figured it out. if you don't know someone who fits this profile, try asking the teacher or the other students. and, again, if someone tells you, "it's easy, just 'blah, blah, blah." then cut and run! but do try someone else.

all i can remember about algebra is that if you do something on one side of the = you have to do it on the other side too. and if you can get the "y" all by itself, you've got your answer.


2 + x = 18

-2 +2 + x = 18 - 2 (put -2 on both sides of the equation so you can issolate y)

(the -2+2 = 0, so, you can drop them)


2x = 12 (you need to divide by 2 on both sides in order to isolate x)

(2x)/2 = 12 / 2

(since any number divided by itself is 0 , you're left with x on the left side of the equation)

x = 12/2

(now you solve the problem. what's 12/2? )

x = 6

if this kinda made sense but you need clarification. or, if i'm completely off the mark. please give us a specific example of the type of problem you are struggling with. we'll try to help.

good luck! wheezie

11-05-04, 08:57 AM
Welcome my son Koda post's here as well. I'd say talk with your parents, if that doesn't work speak with your counselor or a teacher you trust. And don't despair if you should flunk Algebra I did my first year and had to take it my second year of high school...kicked butt I did!!! Never had anything less then a 90 my second year.

Something's I've found with Koda is he's alway's trying to get to the answer first. Follow thru show all and I mean all of your work that way not only is it harder to lose concentration but you and your teacher will be able to pinpoint trouble area's. Koda also uses a personal headphone set during test with "white noise" to help cut distraction most teachers are willing to oblige even without a diagnose's. Good luck!!!

11-05-04, 09:15 PM
Hi Andrea,

First, I would definitely recommend talking to your parents and your teachers. Most teachers will do anything they can to help if they know someone is having trouble with their class. Of course, as with most things, there are always exceptions. :)

I had the same trouble when I took algebra. There are a couple of things I would like to suggest that helped for me. First, I tried to make learning the equations and formulas into a game or race. It helped keep my attention a bit longer. Even if I was just racing to see how fast I could get the questions answered. Then it didn't seem like I was doing an individual problem that was being repeated in various formats. It became a little more fun.

Second, I would recommend getting a computer program on any subject you are having problems with, in this case algebra. Usually, most computer programs use a great deal more visual clues, such as a change of color. It also allows you to go at your own pace.

And finally, remember that, other than in theories, there are only 4 things you can do to any equation. Add, subtract, multiply, and divide. All the computations you do are computed by following those rules no matter if you are using numbers, letters, or terms such as Sin.

I don't know if any of this helped, but it is what I helped me get through Calc 3. :)

11-24-04, 03:03 AM
Hi, There is a very simple tutorial in:

search algebra tutorial


11-24-04, 07:33 AM
I can't believe no one has mentioned 2 little things that help infinately.

-Ask to sit in the front row. Front row means a lot less distractions.
-Take lots of notes. It's been a while since I was in highschool so I don't remember if the teacher wrote on the board enough to make this possible.

You may or may not want to hear this, but algebra is simple. The hardest part is learning the mechanics of equations. In otherwords, you have to memorize how things are represented in math. Once you realize things like the shortcuts that are made in writing equations(like how "5" is really the same thing as "5/1"), math starts to make sense.

11-26-04, 11:04 AM
I'd say to talk to a teacher, and if you can't talk to a teacher, go to a higher authority within the school. A school's job is not to let students fail if they're having a hard time. NO student deserves to fail, right? So, they have to do something for you, or else they're not doing their job as educators. Everyone has the right to learn, and I know how you feel, I'm experiencing a lot of trouble with math, too.

Best of luck!

11-29-04, 10:23 AM
I know exactly how you feel Rock, smart as heck but can't do a thing with numbers.

12-23-04, 03:11 AM
Use this:
There are examples and exercises.

03-01-05, 10:17 PM
I know exactly where you are coming from Andrea, I was in Algebra I 3 years ago, while I was 13. You are already 1 step further into it than I was and that is that I couldn't admit defeat back then. I had a reputation for being the "smart kid" and still do and I just couldn't admit that I was having trouble. I was too proud to ask questions then and it really hurt me. I respect you because you have the courage to admit that you have a problem and need help, so I am going to try my best to help you; just as I wish someone had done for me when I was where you are. Sorry that this is so long, but I hope it's full of information you can use.

The very first thing I would do is to go get diagnosed and get on some meds. I mean call the doctor right now. You can finish reading this post first though, but don't forget!;) Ok, like DrLang said: Sit on the front row and take notes, LOTS AND LOTS OF NOTES. I would like to add to that the fact that if you take notes, but don't think about them as you are writing them down, they do no good unless you go over them later, but its most effective to think about it and try to commit what you are writing to memory as you write it. Also, make it clear to your teacher that you are trying. Alot of teachers won't even pay attention to students they don't think care; mine didn't pay attention to anyone except the kids who had a 95 of above(not me).
Another thing I find really helpful is to go over your tests when you get them back and try to understand the problems and what you did wrong. Try to rework the problems until you get them right: this is alot easier when you know its not for a grade. Also try to get a friend or tutor like alot of other people mentioned. My dad is an electrical engineer, so he could just look at the problems and instantly know the answer. Having him around was a big help. I was also best friends with the guy in our class who had the highest average.
The main thing, though, is to get the medication. I told my mom recently, when she wanted to take my computer away because she thought it was distracting me from doing my homework: "Taking away the distractions isn't going to solve the problem. I have a disorder that creates them for me! What you have to do to keep me from getting distracted more is to take away the ADD." And the meds do a GREAT job at that; at least the right ones do. So go get tested now that you're done reading my post! Hope this helps!

*I just thought I'd point out that when I was late for History the first day of school because I didn't know where the room was I got stuck with a seat on the front row, along with a couple buddies of mine who were lost with me. Just thought that was funny that you got stuck with a seat in the back and I got stuck with one in the front. Shows you why people from MS are stereotyped as STUPID.

Way Too Flighty
04-24-05, 11:36 PM
Rock My Socks,

Hang in there. Check out my post in another thread, about how verbalizing as I worked helped me. It may be a good strategy for you, however, don't use it to the exclusion of other strategies. Do get evaluated for ADD. Also check into what accomodations you can get considering your difficulties.


05-02-05, 05:18 AM

Feel free to send me any algebra questions you have. I understand how hard mathematics can be, but once you understand it can be a very beautiful and useful thing!<o =""></o>


05-04-05, 07:03 PM
I had a terrible time with algerbra. My algebra teacher gave me some extra help and this link. It is helpful and full of information. ( I hope this is helpful.

05-04-05, 09:44 PM
i failed algebra, and my tutor was a waste of space. I wrote notes, studyed extra, got help, even got given extra exam papers to practice on (off a different tutor, mine was so slack) and still failed. I think a large part of that (other than outside factors) was having no support from my tutor. I am smart anough to do the work, but LD'S and ADhD kind of make it hard. I think that had the tutor have been suportive my final grade could have been a "C" and not an "F". So yeah, try to include your tutor, but be aware some will give you vebal because if they think your just making excuses, depends on the person your talking to.

05-05-05, 04:58 AM
I passed Algebra...the third time...with a D. To put it mildly, it was not a fun experience, and will probably rot in the ol' psyche forever. In the end, though, two things are true: 1)you very likely will never use it again and 2)you still have to finish it...sad but true.

Shinobi's got a good point, too...some might think you're just trying to make excuses, even though you know you're not. Just gotta grit your teeth and remember they do not know anything about you.

Hang in there, Andrea. If you can keep from crying every dang day in class, you're doing better than at least one person on this forum did.;)


p.s. If it makes you feel any better, I'm 23 and I have to take the mother of all Algebraic math courses--Statistics--in grad school next year, which makes me feel as though I may vomit. You'll be fine. No illness, no daily tearful'll be ok.
p.p.s. If anyone's thinking "That's not the mother of all Algebraic math courses, this is" -- please, please, please just don't tell me for my own good!:faint:

05-06-05, 12:57 AM
Well I finanally got my B in Algebra. All those years of not doing good in math. I did struggle and went to the tutors evey free moment I had at the library. I also seeked help from my teacher, that semester she was the only full time instructor I had.

If I can get a B in algebra anyone can. Be discipline and dont let anything stop you. I was proud a B wow and in algebra.

05-06-05, 01:30 AM
Awesome, Chris! Now there's a case where hard work (and a major struggle) was rewarded. I'm sure it felt pretty good! (Nearly done with courses...kind of in the same mindset.)


05-06-05, 01:33 AM
Most simple question is, what is an example, of the algerbra you do so we know what level your up to. :)

05-06-05, 04:38 PM
Thanks Chrys for the kind words. I really worked hard and put alot of time into it. One things was it was on the computer and it helped to beable to go back and look at the lecture and take notes.

I was also able to go over sample question that might me on the final too. My teacher gave out a study guide of what the test might be like. I did good on the guides.

It was a beginning algebra class but I didnt have any algebra in high school; I was in LD classes.

If I can do it anyone can.

09-22-05, 05:17 PM
Oohh I found some change. You can have it.

Hello, Andrea. Good luck. I'm 18 just finishing up.

I've found that, while the teacher is explaining equations and such from the book, actually following along in the book with her, and reading all the extra stuff keeps me from getting overly bored. The teacher will most likely tell you at some point, or tell the class that certain things aren't important. Don't listen. Read the chapter, and all the guided examples until you feel confident enough to start with your homework. And do, the section reviews. Go through all the sections that will be included in the test. Ask the teacher to specify what will be covered in the test. All of this will help you. I promise. It helps when you understand everything, that's involved in an equation.

The cool thing about algebra is that nothing changes, nothing has more than one meaning. Their is a set of laws and formulas to govern everything. It's not the same as language. Math's simplicity is expressed through predictability. You just have to play by the rules..

09-29-05, 07:40 PM
Girl let me tellyou a little something about me that might make you feel a little better okay. I usually don't share embarresing things like this with anyone but hey you seem cool and you sound like you need someone to make you laugh okay. Girl my name is Michelle. i just barely graduated high school but by the grace of god himslef did i get to walk across that stage. i had to take algebra 3 times before i passed it and then i had to take geometery 2 before i passed that. So don't feel bad you get through i know you will. If i did then you will. I have confidence in you honey we all do. Good luck.

09-29-05, 08:05 PM
I have sailed that boat. I failed algebra 2. I'm taking it currently. Darnit! Last year wasn't a good year. I blame my AD/HD!!!, but that doesn't mean you can.

09-29-05, 09:42 PM
As a math teacher I can say that the graphing calculator can be a good thing or a nightmare depending on how algebra is being taught. Some teachers try to skip the step by step processing so the basic reasoning behind the math is lost. This makes things more difficult as you go along.
If technology is your thing there are a lot of sites that will act as homework tutors for math and actually keep your attention if you like to sit in fron of a computer to work. If you're interested in them, IM me and I'll give you some links when I get to my desk.

09-29-05, 09:52 PM
Right now I'm taking Elementary Algebra in college to brush up since its been a hundred and fifty years since the last time I've looked at an algebraic equation. I've found it helpful to have study partner's--there are three of us that get together and work thru the chapters together and what one doesn't understand the other two usually do and can take the time to explain it until they get it.

If you live near a college campus you can have your parents check into getting you a tutor. From what I understand many of the student tutor's are soon to be teachers who can not only use the small fee they charge but the practice in getting concepts across and you'll have the one on one attention you need.

09-30-05, 12:05 AM
I know this is an old post but I had to respond!
One of the first flashes of the past I got when I was diagnosed (at 40) was “I wonder if this explains why I failed high school algebra 3 times?”
I have always been considered bright so it blew me away that I just could not get my mind around it. I had three different teachers and after five minutes they all sounded like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. (not sure how to imitate on paper) and my brain just went all buzzy and fuzzy.
To this day, there has never been anything else that I have struggled as much with, I am good with numbers (as long as I don’t have to remember them) so it wasn’t a “math thing”
I wonder what the big deal was?

11-12-05, 01:47 PM
yeah i'm super horrible at math. I'm a freshman in college and recently a prof said "you don't know your multiplication and your arithmatic skills are down the tube." I then suggested if i should get a tutor, "well, no it's too late."

come to find out, i've been doing my multiplication wrong my whole life.

well I know those aren't really the most encouraging words, but my advice is to find someone who's willing to work things out with you now, so that you're not in a situation like i'm in.


09-24-09, 10:49 PM
During my K-12 the only thing that I did well, was algebra. from 7th grade on I was a math ace. I don't know how to add or multiply with out deriving. I used to fall asleep doing arithmetic homework in elementry school. I only did well in logical subjects. I actually got approved to take algebra1 in 9th grade since i did so well in 7th and 8th. In NY when i was in HS the requirment was to take 3 years of math, and algebra 1, which is a 2 semester course (1 year). When I saw everone's schedule they were taking fundamental math. So i went to the guidance councelor and asked to take that class so it would be easy for me. So i took that, prealgebra, then algebra 1. algebra 2 was intermediate, and college algebra. I wish i would of taken those in HS. Anyways point is, I bombed everything else in HS. I don't know or remember how i graduated. It helped being in the worst and most violent school in the bronx. Cuz i didn't do jack for other classes but sleep. and since no one cared. Now at the age 30 i got diaged with ADHD.

09-25-09, 12:34 PM
Edited to add: WOW! just realized how old this thread is!

You should talk to your parents. One issue may be that one or both of them have undiagnosed ADHD and so might think "she is just like me-scattered- no disorder". Once I was educated about ADHD during the diagnosis and treatment of my youngest child (hyperactive), I was able to see the symptoms in my oldest who is inattentive and get her help. She is now advanced in her math, history and science and doing great.

It might help to talk to a counselor first and see if there is any help they can be, such as having them suggest evaluation for learning issues by an education psychologist. This testing can test for underlying learning disorders and can even suggest when ADD is present. It may be a round-about way to start your parents thinking that maybe you could use some help and getting you that help.

My oldest used to have problems in some of her classes. She would zone out and not "hear" the instruction. This meant that she was getting by self-teaching herself the subjects. As the classes got harder, her struggles became more obvious and we went for diagnosis and started treatment. Before that time, she would drink coffee in the morning and a caffeinated drink in at lunch as a poor attempt of self-medicating.

You might check in your algebra book and online to see if your algebra book has on-line help with it. My daughter did algebra last year and her book had an on-line component with tutorials and extra help. Sometimes it just takes a little practice to get things more ingrained in your brain so that they are more easily recalled when testing.