Studying maths on your own, or doing homework, can be challenging at any level – Year 7 through Year 12. These are some tools that can be very helpful in your maths study.
Past papers are the ultimate tool for HSC Maths preparation. They test the same knowledge that will be tested on exam day, and if used correctly, can help you develop your time management under duress.
That said, what is the best way to approach past papers? Like with any task, when doing past papers, learning occurs when you overcome a challenge. With this in mind, doing past papers without the solutions is ideal. When you’re stuck on a tricky question, it is all too tempting to glance at the solutions, convince yourself you could have done that, and move on. Taking an extra minute to review your working and rethink your strategy may very well get you to the answer.
Completing past papers under timed conditions can also be of great benefit. By replicating the time constraints of exam day, you will force yourself to be economical. In particular, the multiple choice section can be a common pitfall. Do not waste time on the multiple choice. Both 2, 3 and 4 unit Maths have a 10 mark multiple choice section at the beginning of the paper, arguably the most time consuming marks in the paper. If you find yourself stuck on one of these, cut your losses and move on – there are many more marks left in the paper.
Learning to allocate your time in a practice paper can be invaluable in honing your pacing and exam strategy for when you’re confronted with the real deal.
Make a formula and concepts sheet and understand what each one means
Yes, it’s true that in the HSC you are now provided with a formula sheet. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for actually being familiar with how the formulas work and when to apply them. This can be done by laminating and blu-tacking it to your shower screen, or simply sticking it up in front of your desk or table.
What to put on your formula sheet? Don’t go overboard – a simple sheet of A4 should do the trick. We recommend you write things down that you tend to forget over time. This could include formulas you often forget and have to look up, or misapply, with relevant examples.
Useful Online Tools
When you’re studying maths and get stuck without access to a teacher or someone you can ask for help, it can be easy to set it aside to come back to later. However, there are some very powerful free online tools that can help you check answers, clarify concepts, and more. There are many out there, but here are our picks:
Wolfram Alpha: A great graphing tool, which can help you visualise polynomials, turning points, volumes of revolution and much more. Simply enter the function you want to graph, and the rest is self-explanatory.
Integral & Derivative calculators: These sites are great if you are stuck on a question, and the solutions can’t help you get to the answer. They use a step-by-step format, to walk you through the working.