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Why You Should Have Paid Attention in Math Class

Why You Should Have Paid Attention in Math Class Credit: Woman doing math image via Shutterstock

If you have kids who just went back to school, you might want to tell them to work extra hard on their fractions and decimals this year: According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans believe that math proved to be the most valuable school subject later on in life.

Gallup surveyed more than 2,000 individuals of varying education levels and, looking back over their  educational history, 34 percent of respondents reported that math was the most useful to them. Language arts, which includes English, literature and/or reading, came in second, with 21 percent of respondents giving that subject as their answer. Twelve percent said science was most valuable to them, up from just 4 percent when the same survey was conducted in 2002.

These three subjects held their top spots when educational levels were taken into account, although in different percentages. The poll results indicate that math was more important to individuals with less formal schooling: 43 percent of respondents with a high school education or less ranked math as most valuable, while only 19 percent of postgraduate respondents said the same. Language arts, on the other hand, increased in importance with the individual's education level (19 percent for high school or less, 25 percent for college graduates and postgraduates). Gallup suggests this is because written communication is more likely used in jobs held by those with higher education levels. Science was only slightly more important as respondent education level increased.

When survey respondents were divided by gender, the results showed a drastic variation between men and women. Forty percent of male respondents said that math was most valuable, with language arts as most important to just 13 percent. Female respondents were about evenly split between math (28 percent) and language arts (29 percent).

[Why Women Avoid Math & Science Careers]

Across the board, Gallup's results indicate that a strong background in the three R's of reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic during your school days will prove useful as an adult in the working world.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.