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# Revision tips for Exam Success in Maths!

By Claire Ward | Published | No Comments

Maths exams can be intimidating, but they needn’t be if you’ve put in the work. So often my students say to me – ‘oh, now you’ve shown me of course I know that, I just didn’t think to do it’. So what are some helpful tips to ensure you do your best in any upcoming exams:

- Well, the first one is obvious – make sure you’ve learnt all the formulae you need, the theorems, notation, and concepts.
- Do as many practice questions as you can get your hands on. Sometimes it’s easy to do the actual calculation, but the issue comes in understanding what a wordy question is asking you to do. Doing lots of practice questions helps you to understand how different topics may come up in wordy questions, and get you used to how to answer them.
- Make sure you remember not just the Maths, but also the list of topics you have covered. What do I mean by this? Well, if you had a question asking you to ‘use the cosine rule to answer the following’, then if you’ve revised you will probably have no issue with it. But what if you are in the middle of a question for which you need the cosine rule, but you completely forget about its existence. You can’t continue the question, even though you’ve actually got the ability to answer it. So it’s as important to remember what you know, as to know it! Know what tools you have at your disposal.
- Have rules in your head to remember what tools you might need to answer certain questions. For example, if you see a right-angled triangle, you may immediately be thinking – Pythagoras, SoHCaHToA, area = 1/2 base x height. Or a non-right-angled triangle – the sine area formula, the sine rule, the cosine rule etc. Or the sine/cosine rule – do I have two angles/two lengths, or three sides/one angle? Make sure these things are in your mind as well as understanding what each individual thing is.
- Always answer the questions you can do first. Make sure you get the easy marks.
- Make your working very clear. Examiners get paid peanuts, and have very little time to mark a lot of papers. Scrawls all over the place will make it very hard to mark, and understandably examiners may not have the time or patience to try and decipher it to see if your working is correct. Systematically set out what you need to do to answer each question. Remember, working is not always about helping you find the answer, it’s about showing the examiner you know what you are doing. Someone who doesn’t know how to answer the question should be able to look at your answer and understand how you got from one step to the next and where the answer comes from.
- If you have time, check everything! Particularly any you struggled with.
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to get your answer when you start a question. If you are given information that you can use, then start using it and inspiration may come. If not, you’re likely to get some working marks at least.
- Check that you have used the information provided in the question. Very very occasionally you may be given additional information. But this is very much the exception and generally if you have been told something, you will need it to answer the question. So if you find yourself stuck, then check whether there are any key bits of information you haven’t yet used. Knowing that the triangle is equilateral or isoceles, or that a ratio is 4:5 for example, may be what you need to finish off the question. Sometimes it can be helpful to tick off the information given in the question as you use it. That also helps you see what bits you haven’t ticked to see if they contain any information you missed at first.
- Don’t forget units.
- If you answers get messy, make sure it’s really clear what your final answer is. Maybe put a box around it.
- If no amount of decimal places or significant figures are stated, then 3 significant figures is a good rule of thumb.
- Don’t panic, you can do it, and if you can’t immediately see what to do, just start doing things you can do. It’s amazing how many marks you can pick up this way!

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