Thursday, 3 January 2013

Revising for Maths Exams - Get a Higher Grade with these Tips (Part 1)

With my own A-level Maths exam coming up in a week and a half, I have been doing a lot of revision with classmates and independently during the holidays.
I find that Maths is a subject a lot of people find it difficult to revise for because it is bit different to other subjects. There aren't many 'facts' to learn (besides the odd theorem of course!) and some say that it is more of a 'skill'.
The revision aids commonly used for other subjects may not work as well for Maths. On top of that, making Maths notes can be tricky, too.
In this post, I will share some ideas on revising effectively for Maths exams, which hopefully may help you to increase your score or grade. :D

Past Papers
 I cannot stress how important these are!! They are useful in most subjects but even more so for Maths.
What you will find is that there are only so many ways for the examiners to ask questions so a lot of similar questions are repeated over the years.
Doing past papers in exam conditions allow you to get used to the style of questions and to practice your time management i.e. the speed at which you answer questions.
Believe me, you don't want to run out of time!

Mark Schemes
Also, looking at the mark scheme when you mark your paper allows you to appreciate where and why marks are awarded. Some exam boards are very picky about certain things so its important to know what they are.
Apart from that, you obviously know where your strengths are and where you are lacking so you know which areas to focus on.
Plus, you get a grade which is a good indicator of where you are at. Make sure you are completely honest with your marking - being generous may cause more harm than good.  And remember that, the more papers you do, the better your grade will get, so don't be discouraged by a low score!

That's all for today, but keep an eye out for the follow-up. You can subscribe to this blog by email too on the side bar on the right.

Did you find these tips helpful? What Maths exam(s) are you revising for? Let me know by commenting below.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

How To Take Notes - Linear

So far in this series, we have looked at pictorial notes and Cornell notes.  Today, I am going to focus on linear notes and their advantages and disadvantages.

What are linear notes?
These notes are the most common type. Almost everyone has used them at some point. They are, as the name suggests, notes taken in lines.

How Do You Make Them?
These notes are very simple. Nothing fancy. They involve a basic top-down approach which is how we write most of the time. To give them more structure, you could add headings.


  • Nothing fancy, no methods to remember. You can just get straight to it.
  • They make the most of the available space on the page so your notepad may last longer
  • They are probably the least effective way to take notes. The brain does not work in straight lines nor does it learn that way. The brain learns by patterns and associations, so it would make more sense to organise our notes that way. 
  • The notes are just lumped together. There is no way of quickly extracting information and adding to the notes later. 
  • Revising from them is a traumatic experience. In all seriousness, no-one wants to have to plough through whopping great big chunks of text, especially when the subject matter itself is complicated. To revise effectively, you need to be able to break down the information and sort through it. Linear notes aren't in the correct form to do this.
However, a good way to use linear notes is to take them when you are in a hurry e.g during class or a lecture. You then review them afterwards by putting the content into a more accessible format, such as pictorial notes or a mind-map. This makes you form connections between concepts and consider the meaning and relevance of what you are learning.

What do you think of linear notes? Which note-taking method do you currently use? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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Work Less To Get More Done

Have you ever spent entire days or even a holiday working on a project, only to get very little done? It's frustrating to invest so much time into something to get very little out of it at the end.

So, what can you do about it?
Ironically, by working less you can get more done.

It may sound strange but consider it: if you know you have an entire week to write an essay you are likely to slack and think "I've got ages to do it, it can wait." You think this for the rest of the week until it's Sunday evening and it still hasn't been done. That's when you go into panic mode and really get into gear. And somehow, you get it done in one go.
That's because you are more likely to focus and put in the effort when you are under pressure. And what is the main creator of pressure? Deadlines of course! 

To get more work done, you need to create deadlines for yourself to create some pressure for yourself.  You can do this by setting a personal deadline for the next day or saying you will do half your essay but you can only work until 7pm.

Scheduling other 'unmissable' activities such as meeting a friend or part-time work/volunteering during the holidays can create more rigid deadlines for yourself.
If you have somewhere else to be (and someone is depending on you) you are more likely to stop working at the allotted times.

Scarcity makes things precious.  If diamonds were as widely available as socks, they wouldn't be quite so valuable, right? It's the same with time -  the less time you have, the more valuable it is.

So when you feel like you have too much time, create less of it (and increase its value) by working less and watch your productivity soar.

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