Maths Anxiety

Looking back to seven years ago, I was in primary seven getting ready to start secondary school. Maths was something I loved and a subject I felt confident in.

Six years ago I remember sitting through a maths class in S1 looking at the teacher who was desperately trying to teach me how to do ‘The St. Andrews flag method’. I had no idea what she was talking about and remember feeling like I wanted to cry. How and when did I get so bad at maths?

From S1 to S4 maths was a struggle I remember fearing every lesson and trying to think of any excuse to avoid class whether it was ‘feeling sick’ or having ‘dentist appointments’. This of course made things worse as I began to make myself believe maths was more scary than it actually was.  I began to give up listening in class or paying attention as I believed I would never understand and paying attention was in vain.

This evidently affected me as I sat crying the night before my national 5 maths exam. Frantically looking through every textbook and jotter praying for a miracle that would somehow turn me into a math genius. This of course didn’t happen. I ended up spending my whole night watching ‘Mr maths genius’ on Youtube explaning ‘sin, cos and tan’ which, to me, were just random words. To cut a long story short, I failed the exam.

Despite getting good grades in my other subjects I remember feeling disappointed in myself. Looking through every university’s entry requirements, I began to realise if I was serious about becoming a  primary teacher I was going to have to try again.

Round 2….

Despite hating the walk to maths and dreading every lesson, I made sure I concentrated in class. After a year of sticking it out, I achieved an A at nat 5 maths. Out of all my grades I had achieved at Higher level, I felt most proud of this as it meant my dream of becoming a teacher could happen and maths was no longer holding me back.

A month ago I found myself sitting at a desk looking at a power point which read ‘Discovering Maths’ and thought “what have I done…?” The sheer mention of the word maths made me want be sick.

The first topic we looked at was maths anxiety. Reading through the symptoms and causes, I realised this was something I suffer from.

Maths anxiety is something I had never heard of until recently, and according to Hill, ‘is a debilitating negative emotional reaction towards mathematics’ (Hill, 2016). After researching I have discovered I am not alone in feeling anxious towards maths in fact it is believed that a quarter of the worlds population share this feeing (Brain, 2012).

When I become a teacher, maths anxiety is something I cannot bring into the classroom. I will refuse to pass my fear of maths onto any future generations. It is, therefore, my aim to become more confident in my maths abilities and defeat the monster that maths is.


Brian, F. (2012). Maths Anxiety: The numbers are mounting. The Guardian. (online) Available at: (Accessed 16 October. 2017).

Hill, F. (2016). ‘Maths anxiety in primary and secondary school students’, Learning and Individual Differences, pp. 63-68.

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