Does the idea of doing sums make you feel nervous? Many people feel stressed and worried when faced with numbers and maths.

In some cases, it can even have a physical response such as a racing heartbeat or sweaty palms. If maths fills you with horror and dread, then you may have maths anxiety... and you are not alone.

What is maths anxiety?

Maths anxiety is the stress and fear that many people feel when it comes to doing maths. It is a common problem that affects both children and adults. It’s not because you’re bad at maths, it is about the way maths can make you feel. Anyone can have maths anxiety, even people who score highly on maths tests.  

You might feel embarrassed about it, but don't! Fear of maths is actually really common. It's one of those things that almost everyone has experienced at some point but very few people talk about.  

It could have been caused by a bad experience at school. You may have just thought you were bad at maths or you hated it. It may have been caused by getting a sum wrong once and feeling embarrassed. 

The good news is that maths anxiety can be overcome with the right approach and good adult learning support.

Why is it important to be confident in maths?

Whether you are doing your shopping, measuring for DIY or helping kids with the homework, we use maths everyday. If you have maths anxiety, even doing simple sums can make you feel anxious and not trust your ability.  

Not trusting your own ability in maths means you can become over-reliant on other people. It can cause problems when you're trying to manage you money. It can even mean you can get ripped off by companies offering "special deals".  

Also, we use sums everyday. Nobody wants to have sweaty palms or feel sick every time it comes to dealing with numbers.  

Building maths confidence can help you with all those little things you hate doing, because they involve using numbers. 

If you're a parent, you don't want to pass this fear of maths onto your children. You want to help with homework and be encouraging children to do well in maths.

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How can I overcome maths anxiety?

Our adult maths classes are made to work for learners of all levels. We treat you as an individual and make sure you start on a course that works for you. Government funding for Multiply courses, mean that we can make free maths courses for adults. 

Our numeracy champions are skilled in helping adults overcome maths anxiety. You’ll also be learning with other adults who are also trying to overcome a fear at maths.

What comes next?

You don’t have to do everything immediately, but once you have gained confidence in your maths skills, you can progress onto our functional skills qualifications.

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About the author

Jessica Holloway Swift

Employability & Skills Marketing Manager

Jess is an experienced marketing manager with a special interest in employability marketing and learner engagement.