Published on 25 May 2021 by Edu Aid | For Students | Mathematics | Study and Exams Tips & Guide
Singapore is renowned for having one of the most demanding mathematics syllabi in the world, and its students have repeatedly demonstrated outstanding performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and other international maths studies.
However, maths can be challenging for some students who might struggle with exam revision. Math builds on several basic concepts, so students need a solid foundation to move on to more complex topics. When sitting for maths exams, students need to know how to approach and solve the questions under time pressure. A good maths tuition teacher can help students to devise a strategy for the exam and give them tips on how to succeed.
If you’re a student looking to do better on your next exams, here are five top maths exam tips to help you through your last-minute revision.
It’s repeated often but can never be overstated: preparation is vital for any math examination. But how do you go about preparing? The first thing to consider is knowing the syllabus content that will be tested. Often this involves familiarising yourself with the key topics and concepts such as vertices, inverse functions, probability, and linear equations. To determine which topics will be tested, refer to the exam schedule, textbook questions and lecture notes.
Once you know the math content that will be tested, planning a timetable and guidelines for getting through the material is best. This means picking out chunks of material that you need to revise (e.g., polynomials – Monday 2 pm, trigonometry Friday 4 pm) and scheduling them in order of most-to-least complex topics. Assign a reasonable amount for each subject area and aim to stick to that time limit throughout your preparation period.
Some students rely on sheer practice alone by going through maths ten-year series assessment books, with the mantra that ‘practice makes perfect.’ Many students fall into the trap of spending too much time going through endless similar questions without realising they can use their time more wisely.
You can improve your maths exam performance by being more strategic: look for commonly tested topics and try to predict the type of questions you might see.
Look through the ten-year series or past exam papers and start analysing them. Start to classify the questions into topics by making a note or highlighting them in different colours based on your classification. There is no need to attempt every single question; instead, prioritise understanding the questions and familiarising yourself with how to solve them; use the answer sheet to help you.
A good maths tutor will typically be able to spot these questions with high accuracy and confidence because of their teaching experience.
Another excellent maths exam tip is Mind Mapping. Mindmapping is a great maths revision tool that can help structure and visualise your knowledge. It’s a graphical representation of your thoughts and ideas that can be used to break down complex topics. For instance, if revising for a maths exam on Geometry, you start by writing the word Geometry at the center, then draw lines connecting it to the different concepts, such as “Triangle Hypotenuse” or “Circumference.” Underneath each idea, you can add more detail through diagrams, definitions, or notes.
A mindmap should only include essential concepts a student needs to know to grasp the main topic. Mind mapping is an effective exam preparation technique because it allows you to revisit and reinforce your existing math knowledge while allowing you to review unfamiliar concepts. This can significantly improve your overall understanding of the materials.
One maths exam tip often overlooked is deciding on the order to answer questions. If you’re faced with a paper that contains more than one section, would you answer the more straightforward questions first or start with the tougher ones?
In reality, this depends on your learning style and skills. Some students prefer to quickly answer the more straightforward questions, giving them a sense of accomplishment and improving their motivation for tackling more complex questions. For others, tackling the hard questions from the beginning can be better, so they’re not left struggling for time.
Whichever approach you decide on, it’s essential to stick with it throughout the paper and makes sure you check your answers before submitting. This is a straightforward maths exam tip but could make all the difference in performance. If you have 30 minutes or so at the end, it’s a good idea to go back and double-check your answers.
Once you clearly understand what you need to do, prepare your answer by working out the solution on a separate empty sheet – this will help ensure accuracy and minimise errors. After completing your calculations, write down the key steps and double-check them before writing your answer on the exam paper.
Time management is a critical factor in any exam, including maths exams. It’s important to pace yourself during the paper and leave enough time to check your answers at the end. The simplest way to do this is by allocating specific time for each question or section (depending on the difficulty). If there are twenty separate questions, you could divide the total time by 20 and attempt each question within that allotted timeframe.
If you run out of time towards the end of a paper, skip some questions and return to them later if you have spare minutes. Don’t waste too much time on one question – move on, and you can always return to it if you have extra time.
These maths exam tips will help you to prepare for your exams in . Remember, with the proper techniques and preparation; you can excel in your exams. Start early and not scramble for last-minute maths tips, which will cause more stress and anxiety, negatively impacting your exam performance.