Maths exams are tough, and for some reason or another, people tend to lose more marks in a maths exam than any others due to a few careless things. Maybe it’s the hatred for maths or just a general lack of attention from students, maths exams are a breeding ground for stupid mistakes that can severely impact your marks. So here are 7 tips and tricks to maximise your Maths exam performance.
1. Show All your Working
Probably the biggest mistake any HSC student does is not showing each and every step of their working out. Writing out all your steps will allow you to understand your own thought process when looking back over your work. In addition, it’ll make things easier to read for the marker and allow them to give you more marks even if your final answer is wrong. I can guarantee you, the moment you start showing all your working every time you do a question, you’ll be able to increase your marks by 5- 10.
2. Forgetting Units
The Second biggest mistake maths students make is not checking their units when writing down the final answer. Noting down what unit you’re dealing with when you first start a question will help you cut down on writing down the wrong units for your answer, as well as alert you to any conversions that you may need to make.
3. Know your Formulas
Not knowing your formulas or over relying on the BOSTES reference sheet is an incredibly stupid mistake to make when preparing for an exam. The reference sheet doesn’t have every single formula or their variations. As such whilst the reference sheet is a good back up in case you have a brain freeze or something, assume that you’re writing the exam without access to one. This way you’ll be forced to remember all the formula. If you’re struggling to remember all the formulas, try using mnemonics or stories to make the learning fun and interesting.
4. Rounding Off too Early
In some cases you’ll might find that in your working out process you may encounter numbers that are incredibly long and have way to many decimal places to write down. Unless it’s your final answer, don’t round this number off. Instead write it down on your page as an exact number and use that in your calculations. If you do round this number off too early, you run the risk of getting the wring final answer. Pro Tip: Make use of the store function on your calculator.
5. Running Out of Time
After any exam you’ve probably noticed a congregation of students complaining about how the exam was way too long or way too hard to finish in the allotted time. Hate to break it to you, but your teachers and the HSC exam writers are fairly experienced at writing exams and know what is and isn’t achievable in a 3-hour exam. Their aim is to test your knowledge rather than put you under unnecessary stress. Here are a couple tips you should follow, that will make a significant difference during the exam. 1. Don’t waste time on incredibly difficult questions. If you can’t get anywhere reasonable in 3-4 minutes then it’s time to skip the question and move on. Wasting too much time early on in the exam means you won’t be able to capitalise on giveaway marks later in the exam. 2. Don’t rewrite the question. Unless you’re doing mathematical induction, there is absolutely no need to be rewriting the question. Moreover, you may find that you’ve written down the wrong expression from the question and as such you can expect to get a 0 for simply misreading the question. Finally, don’t flick over to the formula sheet unless you really need to. Every time you flick over to the formula sheet and try to find the relevant formula your wasting precious exam time. Instead ensure that you know all the formula prior to the exam so that you won’t waste time flicking back and forth from the reference sheet.
6. Misusing your Calculator
Calculator errors are more common than you think. Students are way too comfortable with autocorrect functions on their phones meaning that the say lack of attention is apparent in their calculator use as they punch in numbers without caring to see if they’ve entered the formula in correctly. Instead take a second to think and type your formula into the calculator slowly and actually double check that you’ve put in the correct numbers. This way you’ll avoid making incredibly silly mistakes that could’ve been avoided with extra care. In addition, make sure that you change between radians or degrees depending on the question. Consider using separate calculators for degrees and radians. If you choose to go with this method, remember to label which calculator is which very clearly to avoid using the wrong one.
7. Thinking you’ve Finished Early
In the HSC exam, you’re given a freedom that you probably haven’t received before. You are allowed to hand in your exam early and walk out. However, this is probably the biggest mistake you could make. Walking out of an exam early doesn’t mean that you’ve smashed through the exam too quickly and the exam was way too short. In reality it means that you’ve finished the exam quickly and made an incredible number of silly mistakes in the process. Instead of walking out of the exam early, make sure you check over the exam multiple times. Some key places to start checking your exam would be simultaneous questions and making sure that all your graphs are drawn impeccably. From there, move on to the multiple choice and then the first couple of the part based questions.
Hopefully, this article helps you in your quest to maximise your maths exam performance. If you need further help with maths and studying for your HSC, then feel free to contact us over here.