1.1 How to use this book

The lightbulb icon introduces a new idea or concept and provides some background information for the chapter. The boxed sections either provide a logical consequence of the concept or an interesting aside/example which will help explain the concepts to you.
The gear icon indicates sections that provide the rules or methods you will need to learn, as well as worked examples to help you put concepts to practical use and to solve the problems later in the chapter.
Each chapter contains some practice problems. There are worked solutions for all of these but resist the temptation to look at the answers first. Try to solve these practice problems on your own.
Where you see a play icon there is a link to a video demonstrating how to solve the problem. Again, always try to solve the problem on your own first!
The owl icon indicates a ‘boffin’ section. These are more advanced problems, examples and concepts that are designed to stretch your understanding. Some don’t involve calculations but rather rely on thinking critically about the data. There are also worked solutions for these questions but have a go at solving them on your own first or try discussing them with friends or other students to see if you can come up with the answers between you.
The concepts taught here have real-life applications! Where you see this focus icon there is a link to a short interview with a professional which brings their career into focus. You will learn how they use maths and quantitative literacy in their everyday jobs, how they attained these skills and the strategies they employ to know if they are correct. The interviews solve the real problem stated in the text. Attempt to answer the problem on your own first and then watch the video to see the answer!

At the end of this chapter is a diagnostic test. Try this before you jump into the other chapters. It is designed to help you see where you may need to focus to improve your ability at tackling the various calculations you might be expected to know as a student of biomedical science or biology. The questions in the diagnostic are designed to be completed without a calculator and should take about 30 minutes. Attempt them seriously (under exam conditions!) and write out your full working. If you struggle with any of these problems do not worry as the content is covered in detail later in the book. Once you complete the diagnostic, check your answers. Full working is shown as well as directions to where the skill is covered in later chapters. Importantly, it is normal for many people to experience anxiety around maths or struggle with new concepts. Even though improving your quantitative literacy is empowering, perversely it can initially feel disempowering. My advice is to persevere and remain positive, but below are some useful strategies you can employ to help reduce maths anxiety.

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