• Question: I love science and I really want to pursue it but I am terrible at maths. Is that important?

    Asked by Saog on 7 Dec 2021.
    • Photo: Gaël Lymer

      Gaël Lymer answered on 18 Nov 2021: last edited 18 Nov 2021 11:32 am

      Salut! 🙂
      My dad is a maths teacher, I had him as my teacher in secondary school when I was 15 yo… and I am terrible at maths! ^^’ Still I am a Geologists and I use maths every days in my science (particularly for 3D geometry in space and mathematical functions, like to calculate velocities and things like that).

      My opinion is: Do not worry about maths, keep following what you love and want to do, maths will not stop you 😉

    • Photo: Danielle Nader

      Danielle Nader answered on 18 Nov 2021:

      I was not the best at math when I was in school either, but now I am doing my PhD! As a microbiologist I dont necessarily use all the math I learned in school though. I dont do geometry, or trigonometry, or use calculus. But I do a lot of statistics, which is a type of math you use in science. Plus I do chemistry, which involves math equations.

      Although math can be frustrating and difficult, it teaches you logic and how to solve problems, which is important in any career you choose, even outside of science. What really helped me was Googling tons of math problems in the topic I was not good at so I could find my weak spot and improve at it. I really recommend this, because practice makes perfect!!!

    • Photo: Peter Milner

      Peter Milner answered on 18 Nov 2021:

      I think maths is important, but it’s not the be all end all of science… I would keep working at it but don’t stress out over it. Maths is important to understanding things but depending on what area you go into, you may not use a lot of maths. Computer programs take care of a lot of the maths solving, but it’s still really important to understand what they are doing.

      So keep working at maths and put in a little extra time if needed, but don’t pull out all your hair over it! There are more important things in life

    • Photo: anon

      anon answered on 18 Nov 2021:

      Hello Saog,

      Thanks for your question – I saw it in my inbox and was prompted to reply because I felt the same way. Maths and numbers never came as naturally to me as words, yet I am doing science everyday.

      I did maths for A-Level, but the maths I use everyday is very different and much simpler

      I would say that my mental maths has improved since working in the lab, I also carry a pocket calculator in my lab coat at all times.

      In my area of science which is Chemistry/Chemical biology, the maths I use is very simple e.g. calculations to make up different mixtures, dilution factors, and most complex is probably to do with enzyme kinetics. But there are many online tools which keep the math part as basic as possible and leave us to interpret the data

      Of course if you want to study a more mathematical based field such as chem engineering, physical or computational chemistry then maths becomes more important, but if you chose your field wisely based on your own abilities you can do science too!

    • Photo: Sam Seymour

      Sam Seymour answered on 18 Nov 2021:

      That is completely ok! In a sense it depends what kind of science you would like to study; something like physics would involve more maths than a career in biology (generally!). A lot of universities offer science courses that start out with a year of biology, physics and chemistry to allow students to get a sense of what they like and are good at. If you did that course, you’ll likely do a bit of maths and who knows, you could find yourself really liking the way maths is taught at that level.

      I know brilliant biological scientists who hate maths/aren’t comfortable with it which just means they either work a bit harder at it or get support from maths-y scientists. I would say, don’t let something like that stop you from pursuing your love of science!

    • Photo: Justine Mathoux

      Justine Mathoux answered on 18 Nov 2021:


      I was good at maths at school but I know a lot of biologists which are not good at maths and use a calculator. I’ll not advice you to do nothing during maths classes, maths are important but you can be a scientist even if you are not good at maths.

      And don’t worry, using maths at work is not the same than using maths at school. It is easier and more realistic.

    • Photo: Cyrille Thinnes

      Cyrille Thinnes answered on 18 Nov 2021:

      Hi Saog, numerical skills are important in science, which is not the same as the maths taught at school. You will need to make sense out of data, and will have software to do the ‘complicated crunching’. So overall, don’t be discouraged if maths isn’t your strongest subject. Conversely, depending on the course you want to pursue at university, you may have minimum requirements to fulfil in maths in order to be able to be made an offer. I suggest you start practicing your maths skills now to be able to at least fulfil these minimum requirements, which will be time well-invested to also help you during your degree (which will inevitably have some sort of maths as a part of it).

    • Photo: Pawel Rulikowski

      Pawel Rulikowski answered on 18 Nov 2021:

      Hi Saog,
      Very good and multifaceted question (or rather answer to it) – it all depends what kind of scientist you want to be, what interest you. As you can imagine theoretical physics require quite different level of math than let’s say social studies. I was not the best in maths at school, although competent and at the end chose probably the most mathematically heavy engineering domain – RF and electromagnetic engineering.
      The most important is to grasp concepts of why certain mathematical concepts and operations and put some work into it. The problem with math is that it is mostly badly taught at school without any sense of adventure. Believe me, mathematicians enjoy it, because it is adventurous. There is no one way to solve a particular problem. I think great way to learn maths is through an application of it – in fact most maths was invented (or maybe discovered?) as a response to a particular practical problems.
      I would advise to get good grasp of calculus, linear algebra and a bit of statistics. Currently, internet is filled to the brim with good books, lectures etc. Check out this channel that shows you that math can be delight to learn https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYO_jab_esuFRV4b17AJtAw – this might be a bit above the secondary school level – but try to grasp the concepts. Another great website is brilliant.org, where you can learn many different subject in an interactive way.
      And remember, DO NOT AFRAID TO BE WRONG – this is essentially how science is done by asking questions and looking for answers (wrong ones more often than not).

    • Photo: Mohammadreza Khodashenas

      Mohammadreza Khodashenas answered on 23 Nov 2021:

      Sometimes U just need a good tutor to help you comprehend it better.
      So you would definitely love it and you have changed your weakness to your strength!