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ACER Occasional Essays


Higher maths ability is often believed to go hand-in-hand with greater levels of general intelligence. At the same time, many students have a negative attitude towards maths. Maths anxiety is defined in the research literature as feelings of concern, tension or nervousness that are experienced in combination with maths. In 2005, researchers in the United States estimated that approximately 20 per cent of the US population were highly maths anxious. Given the cultural similarities between the US and Australia, we can assume that the percentage would be comparable here. Research in education, cognitive psychology and neuroscience shows that anxiety can lead to a drop in maths performance.