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Preparing Students for the Upcoming Mathematics Exams

This article should hopefully provide some tips for parents and students on how to prepare for the upcoming exams, particularly in Mathematics for Years 10 and 11. In our classes between now and late November we will discuss preparation strategies and matters relating to the exam day.

Tips for the Lead up to Exams
Firstly, students should aim to eat well, exercise and sleep well in the lead up to exams.

Secondly, having a plan for revision is key. All students in Years 10 and 11 have had time during a recent pastoral lesson to develop their plan, to ensure that their study routine is not only clear but also realistic, and to revise. Access to templates for planning, as well as study tips, can be found on SIMON under School Links. ‘Study Habits Website.’

When it comes to revising for subjects, it is best not to spend too long on what you are confident that you already know. Students should aim to identify questions or skills that they find difficult and address these with their teacher before the exam period begins. Sometimes a short teacher conference can go a long way to addressing conceptual errors. Students should aim to see their teachers in class or make an appointment to touch base with their teacher outside of class time. This could be at a lunch break.

In Mathematics, students are able to bring a summary book into their exam, so it is important that students have an up-to-date summary book that adheres to the exam rules.

Tips for Reading in the Exam
Exam technique is critical to performing well and reflection on Semester One will help to identify what worked well, and what could be done better in this semester.

Students should make efficient use of reading time at the start of the exam. During reading time students should not be trying to solve questions in their heads but rather thinking about what areas of mathematics they have learned that will help them in solving the question. They should be conceptualising answers. For example, if they are presented with a question to find the span of a parabolic arch of a bridge, they should be thinking that this may involve finding the -intercepts of the parabola and devise a strategy for answering the question.

During reading time, students should consider the complexity of the questions in the exam. They might make a mental note of which questions they should complete first. The exam does not have to be answered in the order the questions are presented. Students may identify that they will start at question five and then move to question two. Effective reading will allow students to determine how they are going to ‘attack’ the exam. This is the case for all subjects. Devising a strategy for answering the easier questions first will leave time for the more difficult questions later. Answering easier questions first will also build confidence as the exam progresses.

Problem Solving in the Exam
In approaching problem-solving questions in Mathematics, students should be using highlighters to underline key words and instructions in the question. Students should be drawing diagrams where possible to help the cognitive process. Students should draw on the areas of maths they have covered which are relevant to the problem and think about what concepts are applicable to the problem.

At the End of the Exam
As we get to the end of the exam time, students should check their answers at the end of the exam to avoid any careless errors. If students have the time, they should thoroughly check their responses to ensure that they have followed all instructions and that they have eliminated any mistakes. Students should also think about the reasonableness of their answers. Does the answer fit the context?

Good luck to all the Year 10 and 11 students in undertaking their Mathematics exams this semester.

Mark Vorster
Mathematics Learning Leader