Unlike English, Maths is straightforward and if you get the answer right then you get the marks. However, when it comes to studying for maths, many people end up wasting time doing the wrong things when they could be maximising their marks in other areas.
So what is the best way you should study for maths?
Step 1: Learn the content
Learning the content correctly, the first time is incredibly important for maths. This is because maths follows a set structure of steps that rarely changes for basic questions. Miss one of those steps when learning a new concept and then you’re going to have to work up to 10 times harder to change that bit of knowledge in your mind to fit the extra step.
Maths notes are fairly substandard, rarely covering what you need to know and usually focus on how to derive the formula or whatever. Instead, your notes should involve examples, and visualisations of the formula at work on particularly hard questions as well as simple ones. In addition to this, you should also include a list of questions that usually get asked in past papers from that topic. This way you have an exam based learning approach which at the end of the day is the way you are going to be assessed.
Step 2: Practice the content
Once you’ve learnt something in maths, you shouldn’t just stop there. Once your notes are done, continue on with the questions in your textbook. Most of them will be repetitive so choose every second question too complete. Then a week later, attempt the questions that you didn’t do the first time. By splitting questions into two chunks you’ll be able to test yourself if you still remember the content a week later. If you don’t remember it then you know that you have to relearn it.
Step 3: Bump it up a notch
Once you’ve done all the questions in your textbook, you can now step it up to past papers. Since we’re only focusing on one topic at a time, select a couple past papers and circle the questions for your topic. Now, calculate the total mark value of those questions and multiply by 1.8. You now have a time in which you have to complete all those questions. For example, say I was doing Applications of calculus to the physical world and from 3 past papers there were 8 relevant questions. The marks of all of them added together equals 40. Multiplied by 1.8 this equals 72 minutes to complete all 8 questions.
By using this method you’ll be doing relevant questions under time pressure, which will simulate an exam situation to some extent.
After completing all these questions, make sure you review them. Write down all your mistakes and any tricks you learnt from reading the solutions. Make sure you have book for these 2 things. By reviewing your performance in this manner rather than looking at how many you got right, you’ll be able to see where you still need to improve and where you have gaps in your understanding.
It goes without saying that you should be continuing this past paper process until you’re getting every single question correct 100% of the time.
These three steps are fairly versatile and will probably work for ou, but that being said everyone is different and it is only a matter of trying and testing various methods of studying. Once you find the best method of learning, make sure you stick to it rather than changing it up even further!