Are Differential Equations Hard? (And helpful tips to succeed in this class!)

Are Differential Equations Hard
Students Discussing Differential Equations Questions

I get a lot of questions from my students about differential equations, and one of the questions is related to the difficulty level of differential equations. The truth is differential equations are an important part of many college math courses but can also be very challenging.

So are differential equations hard? Differential equations can be hard depending on your teacher, how you study, and how well you understand and study math fundamentals. Generally speaking, the actual material in standard differential equations is not challenging to understand.

If you are struggling with differential equations and wonder how to tackle them successfully. Keep read!

You might also enjoy reading: 7 Reasons Why Math is Taught Poorly in Schools.

Understanding Differential Equations

A differential equation is any equation that contains derivatives; it can be either ordinary derivatives or partial derivatives (Source: Lamar University). In other words, differential equations are used to describe the relationship between two or more variables. They involve finding the rate of change in one variable with respect to another variable over time.

You can use differential equations to predict future values for the variables given their current values.

In order to perform well in differential equations class, it is important to have a good grasp of basic algebra and calculus concepts. You must also be comfortable working with functions and manipulating symbols in order to solve problems correctly. This can make learning differential equations difficult for some students who lack a strong foundation in mathematics from earlier grades.

Are Differential Equations Hard
Understanding Differential Equations

Benefits of Learning Differential Equations

Despite their difficulty, differential equations can be very rewarding when mastered! It gives students a deeper understanding of how things work and how they are connected in real-world scenarios.

Knowing how different variables interact with each other over time gives us valuable insight into processes that would otherwise remain unknown. For example, it allows us to predict weather patterns more accurately or model chemical reactions as they happen in nature.

What Makes Differential Equations Hard?

Differential equations involve manipulating functions containing multiple variables and derivatives, which means they are more complex than other equations.

Additionally, the solutions to these equations are not always straightforward or easily understandable; in some cases, multiple methods may need to be used to solve the same equation. Understanding how to approach and solve these problems requires patience, careful reasoning, and advanced problem-solving skills.

1- Your Professor

If you are taking differential equations in college, the difficulty level of the course will largely depend on the professor. Some professors can make differential equations by asking for proof in the exams. 

Before choosing your differential equations class, I suggest you research and see how other students rated the professor instructing it.

Tip: If your professor recommends any material, I suggest you prioritize understanding it, mainly if it is a study guide. This material is likely to appear on the exam.

2- Your Previous Mathematics Knowledge

The difficulty of your differential equations class will also depend mainly on your previous mathematics knowledge, particularly in calculus 1 and 2.

If you plan to take differential equations class next time, I suggest you use your summer to prepare and build mathematics foundations.

3- Your Course Load 

If you expect to take other difficult classes during the same semester, you will find differential equations more challenging since your time will be much more limited. 

I recommend avoiding multiple difficult classes at the same time. 

Are Differential Equations Hard
Students Going To Class

How To Increase Your Chances Of Succeeding In Differential Equations Classes

Below are a few things you can do to make differential equations classes more manageable and improve your chances of succeeding. 

1- Practice Makes Perfect

My top recommendation for succeeding in differential equations is to practice lots of it. It is important that you work through numerous examples so that you become comfortable with manipulating functions containing multiple variables and derivatives.

By doing so, you will become better at recognizing patterns in these equations and be able to quickly identify which methods can be used to solve them efficiently and accurately.

Additionally, don’t forget to ask your professor if there are any additional resources (such as textbooks or online tutorials) that can help you better handle the material being covered in class.

2- Use Your Resources Wisely

With the internet, you have access to a tremendous amount of resources; however, I suggest you be careful and choose your resources wisely.

Numerous websites are devoted solely to helping students understand different topics related to differential equations and providing useful tips for solving difficult problems quickly and accurately.

Additionally, there are also online forums where students can ask questions about specific topics related to the subject matter or even seek help from peers who have already taken courses in differential equations before. So don’t be afraid to take advantage of these resources!

3- Do Your Homework Ahead Of Time

To do well in differential equations classes, I suggest you do your homework ahead of time and prepare your questions before lectures. And if your professor offers office hours, ensure you attend the office hour and ask your professor for guidance.

Doing your homework will improve your understanding, boost your grade and help you do better on midterm and final exams.

I suggest completing your class materials with online resources such as and Youtube. However, it is also essential to ensure that you learn the material and refrain from copying the answers; otherwise, you will definitely struggle on the exams.

Are Differential Equations Hard
Students Doing Her Differential Equations Homework

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Final Thoughts

So, is differential equations hard? It certainly can be, but with plenty of practice under their belt and hard work, most students are able to pass differential equations class successfully.

Overall, differential equations classes are pretty hard because there is no unified way of solving differential equations. Instead, I suggest you critically analyze each problem and use your previous experience. All these factors combined can make differential equations difficult.

I believe that a differential equations class can be a fun class with a good professor if you build your foundation knowledge in algebra and calculus.


I am Altiné. I am the guy behind When I am not teaching math, you can find me reading, running, biking, or doing anything that allows me to enjoy nature's beauty. I hope you find what you are looking for while visiting

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