Try these New Year Resolutions…

The five mathematical resolutions I have suggested below are, unlike some New Year Resolutions, very achievable! But you do have to stick with them if you are to get the benefit.

1.   I will know my times tables up to 12 by the end of January.
Does that sound a bit beneath you? It isn’t – many students find themselves doing questions slower that they should – or getting wrong answers – because their recall of simple multiplications is poor. Don’t forget that knowing your table by heart also helps with simple divisions. Get someone to test you to check your recall, or use a tables test website such as this one.

2.    I will check over any new work at the end of the day.
In most mathematics lessons you will be taught something new – a new method, a new topic, new ways of using previously learnt techniques. It’s so easy to forget the detail, but if you go over any notes you’ve taken, rework some problems, or look up what your text book or a website has to say about it, or watch a short OSC video, this will really help your recall. You’re bound to need what you’ve been taught as the basis for yet more new material – so it’s best to have a good grasp of the detail in the first place.

3.    I resolve to get better at algebra.
(Unless you are 100% accurate already). Any time you get any algebra wrong, make a note of what you did wrong and what you should have done. Keep the notes carefully, and you will in time build a little customised library of correct algebraic techniques.

4.    I resolve to ask if I don’t understand something.
Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid of looking silly – very few people get hold of all the mathematics first time round. So if your teacher says something that doesn’t seem to make sense to you, or if you get stuck with a problem, ask immediately. Don’t let the mathematics get the better of you – there are always ways to break through the fog!

5.    I will practise one new calculator technique or function every week
You need a GDC, but you may be unaware of much that it has to offer. It’s no good waiting until your exams are approaching – you need to practise using your GDC so that the functions you need become second nature to you. There’s a vast amount of online help – try looking at some YouTube videos, for example for statistical functions.

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