How Abacus Math Helped Me Get Into MIT

    Posted by Olivia Rivera on July 07, 2023



    I was admitted to the MIT's Mechanical Engineering program last year. I believe that the Abacus Mental Math program of Genie Academy (formerly Math Genie) gave me the knowledge and skills I needed to enter and excel in MIT. 

    My parents enrolled me at Genie Academy’s Abacus Math program from ages 6 to 9. When I asked what motivated them to enroll me, they said, “We felt like Math Genie could give you the extra edge you need to succeed in your future studies. They also made learning the abacus so much fun for you!” 

    Indeed, the program helped me to understand numbers in a new and fun way and visualize Math without being limited by the traditional counting method. My mental math skills developed exponentially and my ability to focus increased over time. Despite this, I as most other kids had my fair share of struggles. I struggled with mentals as the problems became more difficult because my busy home life made it hard to stay consistent with practicing at home. Thankfully, I was able to overcome this challenge when my parents realized I needed more help at home. The abacus also equipped me with skills that go beyond solving math problems. It improved my mental alertness, problem-solving skills, task-switching or multi-tasking, and it cultivated higher levels of concentration. It also helped enhance my observation and memorization skills. 

    Without the abacus, my life would have turned out a lot different. Because I understood Math at a higher level than my peers at a young age, I quickly advanced in the math classes that I took. During my freshman year of high school, I took a dual math class that allowed me to complete Geometry and Algebra II in the same year. Many of the skills that the abacus develops are necessary to succeed in life, especially for someone like me who had to pave her own path in life. Because I am a first generation college student with no one else to go to for help with homework or college admissions advice, I often felt alone and worried that being good at math wouldn’t be enough to help me achieve my goals. Nevertheless, the motivation my parents passed down to me helped to push me forward. They always told me to work smarter, not harder because they are the pinnacles of hard work.


    Looking back, there are key moments in my life when the skills I learned from the abacus were helpful in other areas besides math. Although I wasn’t able to see it at the time, all the late nights I spent trying to teach myself lessons that my teachers hadn’t taught well enough were successful because of the resourcefulness and problem-solving skills I started to develop at the age of 6. 


    As a current MIT student, I can confidently say that taking the time to properly learn how to do abacus math pays off in the end but you may not see those results for another ten or twelve years. The skills that I developed at Genie Academy only improved as I got older and I learned how to use those tools to navigate challenges as they came.


    Learning how to do abacus math won’t change your life overnight but it will get you started in the right direction. Now, as a Mechanical Engineering major in MIT, I continue to excel academically. During my freshman year, I completed Calculus 2 and 3 before my second semester. 


    If there’s one piece of advice that I would give to parents who want to give their children the best opportunities to succeed, secure the best possible foundation for their education. 


    Genie Academy is the place for children to create that strong foundation and grow into successful leaders of the future. 


    Click the link below to learn more about the Abacus Math program.


    Olivia Pic


    Hi, my name is Olivia Rivera and I’m part of the graduating class of 2026 at MIT. I’m studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Spanish and computer science. As a former Math Genie student, I am using my skills to teach math classes at Genie Academy as well as being a teacher’s assistant at MIT in the fall. I enjoy reading, puzzles, chess, and playing soccer. 


    Discover Abacus Math (1st to 4th grades) →


    Topics: Mental Math, Abacus Math

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