Math Anxiety Statistics: Some Concerning Numbers

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Editorial Team

To perform something that is new or pivotal often stipulates some stress. This can be a concern when such pressures outstrip. Evidently, feeling nervous, sweating, and fear for prolonged periods is not healthy. Some individuals are observed to avert subjects like math, probably due to math anxiety.  In such contexts, the stress can be mitigated by knowing about similar others and their ways of managing these pressures. 

There are many other people in varying demographics who also have similar disquiets. Here we look into available figures and statistics of the same along with relevant insights to assist you with number unease. 

Math anxiety- How common do people feel it?

Many people believe that math anxiety is rare and is often arduous to explore the reason behind it. But the truth is almost half of adults in the U.S. suffer from a math phobia, and the number is higher for women than men, as explained in the study by Newsroom[1].

Kids can get anxious before they even begin kindergarten. Mentors and instructors may observe such uneasiness in early schools. Probably the alarming thing is it builds on itself when kids perform substandard in math or avoid learning new things because of their fear. If you’re frequently nervous or upset when doing math, it may soon constrain your ability to perform. 

What exactly is a kid’s feeling when dealing with this?  Math anxiety is a widespread problem found in students of all ages, especially adolescents. Lucy Sells[2] in her study outlined that almost 92% of female first-year students were math-anxious. This made them compromise on career choices, almost filtering about 70% of the opportunities available. 

Calculation consternation- What leads to disquiet?

Addressing and resolving math equations may lead to a lot of stress. Neuroscientists like Silan Beilock have discovered the things that cause math anxiety[1] and what happens in our brains when we worry about it. In his research at the University of Chicago, he found that when our working memory is put under a challenge or threat like coming up with the solution to a difficult math problem, we have a harder time finding the answer. The way math is taught to children can have a lasting effect on how their lives work out. Learning math in a group situation can be difficult for those struggling with calculations.

That being the case, here are some reasons why math anxiety can arise:

1. Negative Beliefs: Students may hold fixed views about their mathematics ability, e.g., they are ‘not a math person or cannot improve at mathematics through effort or practice. Wigfield[3] studied the probable reason for math anxiety in children. The results showed that the worry component related more strongly and positively, and not their level of attachment with the subject.

2. Bad Experiences: Generally, beliefs are built through experiences. If a kid scores less than average in multiple math tests, he will probably conclude math is not his cup of tea. One’s experience also comes from what parents, teachers, or peers say about a kid’s capabilities. Godbey[4] in his research mentioned that causes of math anxiety might include under-preparedness, school absences, parents perpetuating the myth that math ability is hereditary, and negative past experiences with teachers. Accordingly, a few strategies to mitigate were also suggested. 

Math anxiety statistics- Comprehending engrossing numbers

Anxiety in math is often seen in students. While this can be occasional in some individuals, exact figures of the population can be taxing to estimate. Nevertheless, some relevant intriguing stats can motivate you.

 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics marked that occupations obligating math notions have been increasing drastically. It was expected to amplify by about 28% compared to those in 2020 and 2030. These numbers depict that the significance of math is on the verge of increasing, which implies the need to learn these notions.

Ann Dowker[5] has studied the history of Mathematics anxiety in the past sixty years. As a part of this, he outlined some noteworthy statistics findings. They are:

  • In 1972, Richardson and Suinn calculated that around 11% of university students show high levels of math anxiety
  • Betz, in 1978, outlined that about 68% of overall students who applied for math classes experienced high math anxiety
  • In 2009, Ashcraft and Moore estimated around 17% of the population may have high levels of math anxiety.

These figures show number anxiety is not rare. It is the way of handling such difficulties which makes the path easier to follow. 

Fascinatingly, Blazer[6] stated that about 93% of Americans indicate they have varying levels of math anxiety. 

Math concerns- What does it feel like? 

A person dealing with math anxiety may show the following symptoms. While the level of these symptoms may vary, the below-mentioned indications can often exist:

  1. A person can get exhausted with an experience of confidence complications—fear of making the wrong choices, problems with coping with stress, and exhaustion.
  2. If we look at physical symptoms, nausea, shivering, exertion without any physical activity and rapid heartbeats are common with math anxiety.
  3. A child will also be confused and quit if the build-up reaches their threshold.
  4. While attempting a math exam, a person will be super stressed and blank out, not knowing where to start and how to answer.
  5. Lost in fear and irrational thoughts, a kid generally stops listening to lectures. 

If you ever see these symptoms in your child, connect with a professional to help your child thrive.

Strategies for math anxiety- Plan of actions to mitigate!

It’s a lot of work to maintain good grades if you find yourself feeling anxious about math, but there are steps you can take! 

1. Ensure a Constructive Environment

An article in the Journal of Emerging Investigators[7] explored that students were more likely to improve their math grades if they were encouraged via positive reinforcement than if they were criticized with negative feedback when calculating sums. Accordingly, ensuring positive motivation can have befitting results. 

For instance, if a student is struggling with an equation, ask them if they need your help. Collaborate with them to solve it together.

2. A Tutoring Programme

Proper tutoring with a patient, math instructor can make a noteworthy difference. Ann Dowker made a study on kids who were having trouble with math. The kids were given a tutor for eight weeks. The tutor was there to help them with their math so as to not get so frustrated with it. Implementation of practices like cognitive tutoring, with a one-to-one approach, showed reduced math anxiety scores and remediated responses due to a decrease in their amygdala activity.  

3. Online Games and Activities makes Math Fun

Kids struggling to get better at maths can be alleviated with fun games and activities. The concept of gamification has really been beneficial in explaining students’ complex concepts more easily. For instance, some games help you learn and play at the same time. Sources like Prodigy,, and many others offer enticing yet free games for learners to practice anytime.


Evidently, math is one of the challenging subjects to deal with. If you feel math is strenuous and getting complicated to comprehend the math statistics in your life, note that you are not alone, and many other individuals may have the same signs at varying levels.

While there is no perfect working cure for math anxiety, knowing the causes and discerning symptoms at the right time can help you feel better about the subject and learn more efficiently. Apart from reading books and articles about it, introduce gamification in your life to make the process much easier.


  1. Math anxiety and stress in adults | Announce | University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (n.d.).
  2. A Study of Math Anxiety/Math Avoidance in Preservice Elementary Teachers. (2018). William P. Kelly.
  3. Math anxiety in elementary and secondary school students. (2021). Wigfield, Allan.
  4. Mathematics Anxiety and the Underprepared Student. (1997, December). Godbey, Cathy.
  5. Mathematics anxiety: What have we learned in 60 years? (2016, April). Ann Dowker.
  6. Strategies for Reducing Math Anxiety. Information Capsule. Volume 1102. (2011). Blazer, Christie.
  7. The Effect of Positive and Negative Reinforcement on Sixth Graders’ Mental Math Performance. (2015, May). Tess Greene.

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