4 answers

Can I major in STEM without being good at math?

Asked Cove, Arkansas

I'm not very good at math but biomedical engineering sounds very interesting to me. Should I pursue this major? #engineering #math #stem #major #computer #college #biomedical #science

4 answers

Shiqi’s Answer

First of all, I don't think you should just tell yourself that you are not "good at math" this early on. When I was in high school, I thought math was just not my thing. There are so many different ways problems can show up in an exam and I just wasn't able to answer. Formulas don't come up when I got nervous... all that stuff was bygone. When I went to college, I thought I wanted to do Economics, but since I still had to take a couple math classes to fulfill the major requirements. The simple motivation of fulfilling a major requirement turned into something. In one of my classes on probability, my professor was so good at teaching the concepts that I fell in love with the class, and I ended up taking an advanced probability class the semester after.

What was more encouraging is that after my junior year, when I went to career fairs, insurance companies and accounting / consulting firms saw my resume and encouraged me to take an actuarial exam. Surprisingly enough, I passed my first exam, and I ended up getting a job in the field of pension actuary. Every time when I pass another exam, I felt much more encouraged and confident that I can be good at math!

So the bottom line of my story is that, don't ever believe that you are not good at something. If you put in efforts, and with the right mechanism of encouragements and rewards, you well be good at it. So don't let your belief that you are not good at Math stop you from major in STEM!

Douglas’s Answer

Updated Easton, Massachusetts

Hi Payton,

Probably not, but I do not know enough about you to make an informed comment. Everybody thinks that engineers need to like math. That is not entirely true, many people may not like math BUT they can do math. Think of math as a tool. You may really like flowers, to plant flowers you may need a shovel (a tool). You may not like shovels, but you need to be able to use one to get flowers. Math is a valuable tool in the training of a mind to think logically and to focus on a problem.

Many engineering schools will not accept someone with SAT scores below a certain number. If you are just starting high school, it is not to late to get up to speed in math (private tutors are one way) by taking the more advanced math classes and putting in extra time on that subject.

Have you taken the SATs? If so you can contact an engineering school that you might like to go to and ask about what their math SAT requirements are. You might also consider a Community (Junior) College. Many state colleges have a program which allows someone who does well in the Community College classes (e.g. math) to transfer to the college after 2 years to finish out their BS degree. You could check with your guidance councilor or local Community College about such programs.

Good luck,

Hope this helps,


Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

The STEM range of career areas and jobs within it are very broad. There are many opportunities within that broad array that do not require being good at math. If you follow the process described in the answer to your other question, you will be able to find a career path which matches with your personality traits.

Ani’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

Hi Payton,

Being good at math is helpful for STEM majors, but again it depends on what specific major you are interested in. Let's say you want to major in Computer Science, Electronics, Mathematics, Statistics and the like, yes, being good at math gives you an edge. But for Bio Medical Engineering, you might not need to be a pro in math. And once you get into college, your interest and passion in Bio Medical will automatically drive you to learn enough math skills to excel in Bio Medical field. Hope this helps!

Ani recommends the following next steps:

  • You cannot get good at math by studying, you excel at math by practicing and solving problems continuously. So make it a habit going forward to practice math vigorously.