How to study for Maths exam success

28 Sep 2022

By Evan Jones 4 min read

Maths exams can seem daunting, but they don’t have to be. With her extensive HSC tuition experience, Accel iQ tutor Anureet Kaur breaks down the best tips for succeeding when it comes to Maths exams.

Exam time. It’s the business end of the school year, when the pressure starts to really hit home. Whether it’s Year 11 or Year 12, the expectation is always the same – students want to succeed. With university in their sights and ATAR scores in the back of their heads, it’s great to have a few techniques to help prepare for success when those exams finally roll around.

With the help of Maths tuition expert Anureet Kaur, let’s take a look at how students can prepare for exam success across both Extension 1 Maths and Advanced Maths.

Put a little extra time into understanding those two topics, because it’ll pay dividends come exam time."
Anureet Kaur, Accel iQ Tutor

Tricky topics first

From years of Maths tuition, Anureet has seen firsthand that two topics from Extension 1 Maths are often most difficult for students to master: calculus and trigonometry.

“These are the trickiest areas,” Anureet says. “With calculus, there is a lot of content that they need to focus on. With trigonometry, especially with bearings, finding the directions with the help of true bearings and compass bearings is hard for students.”

Anureet’s suggestion is just a general rule, but it’s a good one to follow: put a little extra time into understanding those two topics, because it’ll pay dividends come exam time.

Focus on specific areas of study

To make study easier and more targeted, Anureet recommends a few key ways students can break up learning across the semesters:

  • Dot points: “I recommend that students make dot points of important concepts,” says Anureet. Keeping an ongoing list of the essential topics and Mathematical concepts will make studying much more targeted.

  • Take note of the problem areas: “I recommend to my students that while practising, if they’re not able to attempt any questions, they should mark them.” When exam revision time comes around, having a cheat sheet of the areas that a student found hardest will make studying much more effective.

How to structure study time and the importance of confidence

When students look at a full semester – or the entire year – of the Maths curriculum, it’s bound to be overwhelming. Effectively structuring study time makes learning and revision much more approachable and significantly less stressful.

Anureet says that HSC tuition students should start by revising what they already know to reinforce that things will be okay, and to inspire self-confidence.

“Students should practise the chapters that they are confident about in the beginning – that’s going to give them a relief that they know something. If they start with practising a chapter that they’re not confident about, and if it’s taking too long for them to revise that chapter, then there are chances that they might lose their confidence.”

Once students have revised the topics they’re comfortable with and built up their confidence, Anureet suggests students then turn their attention to the topics they find hardest.

When to attempt past exams

Eventually, it makes sense for students to test themselves against past exam papers and Anureet suggests that Term 3 is a good time to begin.

When attempting past exams, students should place themselves under exam conditions. This means completing the paper in silence, within a specific time frame (generally 2-3 hours depending on the subject) and without reference materials. Anureet also recommends not just ploughing through as many papers as possible, but using one or two to guide their revision.

“One of my colleagues once told me that students should not concentrate on the quantity of papers, but the quality of papers,” Anureet says. Students, she says, should keep notes on a sheet of paper about the areas of the exam that tripped them up before revising and trying the exam again later. “They should spend at least three to four days thinking about the questions that they did wrong. When they do that there will be less chance that they will repeat those mistakes. I would recommend that they revisit that paper after a few weeks.”

How exam-focused HSC tuition can take students to the next level

For students that really want to streamline their study, specialised Maths tuition for exams can be a great option. Anureet says that even if students only use HSC tuition during exam time, they’re likely to see results. “During revision time, most students don’t want to waste their time in looking for the answers or just checking different resources,” Anureet says. “Tutoring can help them or supplement their knowledge.”

For Maths tuition focused just on revision, Anureet designs custom classes to address the concerns of each individual. “We look at the syllabus dot points, and then we first think of whether we have covered all the syllabus dot points, whether the student is aware of what is there in every syllabus dot point. Then I prepare a worksheet based on every dot point so that they would have attempted at least one question from every dot point.”

Want to learn more about our Maths tuition programs? Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how HSC tuition can help set students up for exam success.