Five Top Maths Tips

Layla Moran, an OSC Academic Manager and IB Maths and Physics teacher, imparts her top five Maths tips to help you get through your exams.

1. Get your calculator sorted

The IB has very strict guidelines about what can and cannot be on your calculator. If an invigilator clears it during the exam, are you confident you know how to change the settings to what you like quickly?

TIP: Practicing this is worth spending 10 minutes of your time doing. Ask your maths teacher to show you if you are unsure.

2. Know your calculator

Speaking of calculators, it is worth ensuring at this stage that you know the most useful functions on it. It will save you loads of time and it is not too late to do this. I recommend this book by OSC for the TI series written specifically for students like you by IB teachers.  You can order it online here.

3. Past paper questions

Yes, we know you’ve heard this before from your teachers, but it is true and it works.

TIP: If you have a revision schedule it is worth putting in 30 minutes of Maths every day, ideally as the first subject you do (studies suggest you do better at Maths in the morning!)

4. Practice your timing on past papers

The biggest complaint students have about a Mathematics exams is ‘I didn’t get a chance to check!’ This is a sign that students have not practiced enough WITH timings. You should aim for a mark a minute and no more. So a 5 mark question takes – ? You got it, 5 minutes, max! If you are taking longer, you need to move on. You can always come back because your subconscious usually keeps working on the problem. By the time you come back you may have that ‘Eureka!’ moment.

5. You do not have to do the questions in order

Remember that all marks are worth the same no matter what page they are on in the paper. It is a good idea to do some easy questions first to help your confidence. Once you feel settled, flick through and complete one that you think looks hard. Keep to your timings (see point 4 above). Jumping back and forth through the paper from easy to hard and back again means that you can do challenging questions early on while you are fresh and do easier ones to boost your self-esteem. Just make sure you put something down for all of them.

TIP: Some students put a big tick through the question number when it is finished and another line making it a cross when they have checked it to keep track.

Good luck!

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